Banning lace underwear for 'vaginal health'


Sophie Cousins


Only days ago, 30 women protesters in Kazakhstan were arrested and shoved into the back of police vans with lace underwear on their heads shouting “freedom to panties”.

Yes. They were demanding the freedom to choose the type of underwear they put on each day.

Not a ridiculous demand, really. In fact, I would almost go so far as to say it’s a right to wear whatever underwear you so choose but as it would seem, that will not be the case any longer for women in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.


Photo: Getty Images

Lingerie outlets across Russia and its neighbours are bracing to bin up to 90 per cent of their underwear stock under a draconian trade ban, which will prohibit the import, production or sale of synthetic lace underwear.


The ban will outlaw any underwear containing less than six per cent cotton (most sexy lingerie is made of materials with less than four per cent cotton), meaning that lacy ladies’ underwear may be literally grabbed off the shelves in all three countries on July 1.

I’m envisioning this will mean a return of Granny Pants, Bridget Jones style, or more worryingly, a return to Soviet-style control of everyday life.

The irony behind this outlandish law is that the legislators (presumably males) had the very best of intentions: women’s health.

Apparently the crackdown will enable women’s lower regions to “breathe” better. How thoughtful. The ban will basically save women from a lack of absorbency lace and other synthetic materials give us. In other words: wear cotton. If you don’t, it’s very harmful to your health.

The imminent ban has understandably caused friction. Women have their knickers in a knot. 

Aside from women in Kazakhstan and Belarus taking to the streets in protest with underwear on their heads (and then later getting arrested and forced to pay a fine), others have taken to social media to protest against the law. There have been an awful lot of funny images circulated around the web comparing women’s underwear nowadays to back in the Soviet-era and it’s not pretty.

Local newspapers have also taken the news badly.

“Bureaucrats are poking into women’s knickers,” the Express Gazeta wrote.

The thrust of the argument is this: women not only should, but must, be in charge of their own vaginal health and governments should not intervene and enforce a law that says otherwise.

To think that in 2014 someone, anyone, can tell a woman what she is allowed to wear is not only a complete and utter infringement on women’s rights, it is downright ludicrous, insulting and archaic.

While yes there is literature that suggests wearing lace underwear could be bad for your health, the general consensus is: “It really depends on your propensity for infections,” Dr Jill Rabin, an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynaecology and women’s health in the US, told the Huffington Post last year.

“The issue is if you have a predisposition to getting infections, either urinary or vaginal.”

The bottom line is that women must have a choice: if you’re prone to infections, then wear another type of underwear. Your body, your choice.

Too many governments and men around the world have taken it upon themselves to impose laws that they believe, in some warped way, “protect women’s demure”, but in actual fact do nothing more but hamper women’s basic rights.

But then again, we are talking about Russia: a country unnerved at the prospect of gender equality and a country renowned for associating their poor record of women’s abuses with their cultural and religious beliefs.

There is just no justification for the banning of lace underwear.

Plus, have you ever seen Soviet-style underwear? It hurts my eyes and even my nana’s. It’s nasty -just like a government deciding what women can and can’t wear.