27 October 2016
Belilios Public School was forced to clarify its inspections of bra straps after a social media outcry. Photo: Google Maps
Belilios Public School was forced to clarify its inspections of bra straps after a social media outcry. Photo: Google Maps

HK public school slammed for underwear checks

A Hong Kong public school is under fire for allegedly requiring female students to show their bra straps purportedly as part of spot checks.

Students took to Facebook to denounce Belilios Public School (BPS) for infringing on their privacy, Apple Daily reports.

A secondary four student, surnamed Chan, recounted an incident in which a teacher allegedly asked a student to reveal her bra strap for a color check.

The concerned student was warned she would be brought to the restroom if she did not comply.

Chan said a prefect tried to check out her bra with her uniform on.

On Thursday, amid growing criticism, the school  clarified the inspections during a student assembly, saying no physical contact will be involved.

Students were told they are free to talk to the media about the inspections but that they should “be careful”.  

BPS requires students to wear white or beige bras in keeping with the school uniform and avoid colorful straps.

A secondary three student, surnamed Cheung, said they were told they would incur a black mark on their records if they broke the policy twice. 

Cheung said some students would wear fluorescent bras for physical education. Sports bras come in bright colors.

However, another student, named Ruby, said the inspections are acceptable as these are part of school policy.

She said no male teachers or male prefects were present during the exercise.

Meanwhile, the Education Bureau said it has not received any complaints about the BPS inspections.

It said schools would not directly inspect students’ underwear in any school uniform checks.

Professor Wong Wai-ching, former chairman of the Gender Research Center of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the school’s handling of the inspections was “absurd, unwise and disrespectful” and could have constituted sexual harassment, Ming Pao Daily reports.

Wong said underwear checks in public inevitably put the people involved at risk of sexual threat, making them feel less safe.

She said BPS should conduct inspections only if it has reason to believe the policy on school uniform is being abused.

And the inspections should be carried out in private, she said.

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