Lace underwear ban irks Kazakh women

Three female protesters were arrested for trying to place lace panties on a monument in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty

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News of an upcoming ban on lace underwear by former Soviet Union countries has compelled some women in Kazakhstan to take to the street, who say that wearing the garments is “a personal choice.”

On Sunday, demonstrators in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, staged what they called a “Panties for the President” protest - voicing both their disapproval of the upcoming underwear ban and the dramatic devaluation of the oil-rich nation’s currency, which has dropped one-fifth against the dollar.


The protests resulted in three women being arrested for trying to place lace panties on a city monument.

Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, who in 2010 joined the Customs Union, a Moscow-initiated trade bloc, recently announced the ban, due to take effect by summer this year, citing “technical regulations” as a reason for their removal, Kazakhstan-based news site BNews reported on Sunday.

The ban - although unenforced - had already been in existence since 2012, according to the Russian daily Moscow Times.

Too damp

The trade bloc claims that synthetic lace material is poor in absorbing moisture, deeming it unhygienic.

However, some women say that the ban violates personal freedoms.

“Banning synthetic lingerie on the governmental level is too much,” said a Dubai-based Kazakh woman, who did not want to be named. “It’s a personal matter that every woman should decide for herself.”

“Why don’t they ban something that is actually harmful, like cigarettes or alcohol?” she added.

Iryna Davydenko, a bank manager, who travels regularly between Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine, described the decision as a “mistake,” expressing her disdain for the ban.

“It irritates me the most that the authorities want to decide what I should wear. As if all other issues in the country are solved and the only outstanding issue is ladies panties,” she said.

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