A Malaysian chess tournament has drawn international outrage after officials allegedly ejected a 12-year-old girl.
The girl’s chess coach, Kaushal Khandhar, posted on Facebook about the incident. He claims that his student was forced to withdraw from the 2017 National Scholastic Chess Championship by request of the tournament director. The girl’s infraction? Wearing a knee-length dress.
Khandhar says that the director found the dress “seductive” and therefore inappropriate to wear at the tournament. However, the tournament’s organizers say that the director submitted entirely different reasoning for the ejection.
Khandhar, who says he has taught chess for several decades, was outraged and turned to social media to vent.
“At the National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017, in Putrajaya, one of my students, who is a 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL, felt harassed and humiliated by the actions of Tournament Director and Chief Arbiter,” Khandhar wrote.
“In the middle of round 2, (without stopping the clocks) Chief Arbiter informs my student that the dress she wore was improper and had violated the dress code of the tournament. It was later informed (by Chief Arbiter) to my student and her mother that the Tournament Director deemed my student’s dress to be ‘seductive’ and a ‘temptation from a certain angle far, far away.'”
“After some discussion, Chief Arbiter had conceded and apologised to my student, personally assuring her that there was nothing wrong with her attire, but due to Tournament Director’s decision, he could not allow this dress to be worn by my student in the tournament.
“This situation had led to the inevitable decision of withdrawal from the tournament all together… This bright young girl was recently the champion of her district in MSS Kuala Lumpur and has shown tremendous potential in chess.”
“This incident has left her extremely disturbed, and embarrassed.”
Khandhar has indicated that he will encourage his student’s family to pursue litigation if possible.
Immediately, thousands of people reacted on social media, drawing international attention to the story. Commenters agreed that there was nothing wrong with the very modest dress, and many seemed puzzled as to how the clothing could appear “seductive” from across a room.
“This is a disgusting violation of this child’s rights!” read one comment on the original post.
“Maybe [the director] was worried about her winning,” another wrote.
In total, the post was shared more than 3,000 times, attracting nearly 5,000 reactions and 1,600 comments. International news outlets quickly picked up on the story.
The furor finally reached the ears of the Malaysian Chess Federation, which says that it’s looking into the incident.
“The tournament secretariat is currently investigating the complaint. The claim posted [by Khandhar] is different from the official complaint,” a spokesman for the organization told the Malay Mail Online. “We will take action once the report comes out.”
The spokesman declined to provide further comment, citing the potential litigation threatened by Khandhar.
Meanwhile, the tournament director, later identified as Sophian A. Yusuf, has hired an attorney.
“We are compiling the list and my lawyer will be issuing the letters next week,” Yusuf said to The Malaysian Insight. “I will be seeking an apology and compensation from those who have defamed me.”