[ 2012-01-20 ]
Malawi Women In Trousers Attacked
Malawi's president says he has ordered police to
arrest anyone who attacks women for wearing
trousers in public.
President Bingu wa Mutharika spoke out on national
radio after several women were beaten and stripped
on the street for wearing non-traditional dress.
Police said they had arrested several street
vendors after the attacks in Lilongwe and the
commercial capital Blantyre.
Women's groups say they are planning protests on
Friday over the attacks.
Until 1994, women in the deeply conservative
southern African country were banned from wearing
trousers or mini-skirts under the autocratic rule
of Hastings Banda.
Men were also banned from having long hair.
"I will not allow anyone to... go on the streets
and start undressing women and girls wearing
trousers, because that is illegal," President
Mutharika said in his nationwide broadcast.
"You are free to wear what you want. Women who
want to wear trousers should do so, as you will be
protected from thugs, vendors and terrorists."
He said he was surprised that the women had been
harassed when wearing trousers is "more protective
to a woman than wearing a skirt".
Meanwhile, women's groups are planning protest
marches and a sit-in in Blantyre on Friday.
Seodi White, a lawyer and leading women's rights
activist, said protesters would gather "in
solidarity with the victims and to express our
indignation at such barbaric treatment of mothers,
wives and daughters of our country".
"We are calling on all women and men of goodwill
to urgently converge... for constructive
engagement on the protection of women and the
defence of their rights in a democratic Malawi,"
Malawi's Vice-President Joyce Banda earlier blamed
the attacks on Malawi's economic woes.
"There is so much suffering that people have
decided to vent their frustrations on each other,"
The country is currently suffering from severe
shortages of fuel and foreign currency.
Source - BBC
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