Tuesday, April 26, 2016

HKU Law Faculty Comment on the Ladies' Night Equality Issue (SCMP)

"Ladies' nights: a woman's right to cheap drinks or reflection of deep-rooted discrimination and commodification of women"
Jessie Lau
South China Morning Post
24 April 2016
When Canadian exchange student Wendy Tsui first came to Hong Kong, she was told that there was one attraction she couldn’t miss: ladies’ night.
     Since the city hosted its first ladies’ night in 1994 - a promotional event where women pay less than men for drinks or entry charges - it’s become an iconic fixture of Hong Kong nightlife. But the practise is now under fire following a recent court ruling that such events were discriminatory, leading several bars to halt their ladies’ nights in response.
     “It makes sense that people think it’s unfair ... but it’s a bit extreme,” said Tsui, 21, sipping from a plastic cup while out at Lan Kwai Fong on Thursday, the traditional night of the week for ladies’ night. “It’s a tradition, there are ladies’ nights in other places. It’s a tourist attraction.”
     Rooted in controversy, the first ladies’ night in Hong Kong was hosted by Westworld, a club in Wan Chai that has since closed, as a way to draw customers into the lacklustre weekday club scene.
     Although there were concerns that the practise would clash with anti-discrimination legislation in 1997, ladies’ night became highly successful, and quickly spread throughout the city.
     Originally a western concept, ladies’ nights are banned in the United Kingdom, as well as certain parts of the United States...    
     By using women to attract male customers, ladies night essentially commodifies women and uses them as tools to sell products,” said Puja Kapai, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong who specialises in human rights.    
     It also perpetuates stereotypes like women being incapable of paying for drinks, or reinforces problematic gender norms such as how it should be men who buy drinks on a night out, said Marco Wan, associate professor law at HKU. 
     In a press release on Thursday, the EOC said that the ruling was intended to “heighten our community’s awareness to unlawful treatments on the grounds of sex or gender” and “rightfully assist a complainant.” It also suggested that the case would be used to gain clarity on the boundaries of business promotions to special groups... Click here to read the full article.


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