Tourism chiefs in Southend On Sea have announced that three beaches on the seafront will run a trial this summer where ladies will be asked to cover up while sunbathing. According to an email that has been seen by Southend News Network, these so-called ‘Modesty Beach Areas’ will be set up to attract visitors from all over the UK who may be uncomfortable with the sight of ‘excessive bare female skin’ for a number of either cultural or religious reasons.
Diane Verss is head of the Working Group for Southend Tourism Inclusion and Equality, and she accepted our request for an interview. She said: ‘We asked 500 people from East London and North London if they would consider a visit to the beach at Southend, and 37% said that they didn’t want to be exposed to Essex-based female flesh and have been choosing Brighton or Eastbourne instead. This got us thinking, and within a few minutes of receiving the report we decided that the town could benefit from three dedicated beaches where ladies are required to cover up for the overall enjoyment of everyone in the area. Privacy screens will be erected around these areas so that other beach users can continue to enjoy our miles of golden sands and crystal blue waters.’
It is thought that the three ‘Modesty Beaches’ will be located in Chalkwell, Westcliff and Shoeburyness, and sources have said that the spaces will be created by relaxing the current restrictions on dog walkers using certain beach areas.
Unfortunately, human rights experts have condemned the move. Petunia Clematis-Hydrangea of the Southend Humanitarian Equality Liberation Foundation said: ‘This is a disgraceful abuse of the Human Rights Act by the very people who are responsible for making Southend’s beaches accessible to everyone. Why should people who feel uncomfortable with bare female flesh be trapped in what will essentially be ‘beach ghettoes’? If the trial is successful, surely it could be extended to the entire seafront from Chalkwell to Shoeburyness, with an exclusion zone around key tourist attractions.’