19 January 2012

Malawi: Vendors Strip Women in Miniskirts and Trousers

Photo: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda Gates meeting with pregnant women at the district hospital in Dowa, Malawi.File Photo

Lilongwe — A group of vendors in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital city, on Tuesday went berserk and started stripping women wearing trousers and miniskirts, purportedly reinforcing a concern raised by President Bingu wa Mutharika over women's dressing.

Women in miniskirts and trousers were forced to take refuge in shops creating a pandemonium which resulted in shops being closed and stalling business in the city.

President Bingu wa Mutharika reportedly raised concerns over the way women were dressing on January 15, singling out those wearing miniskirts and trousers.

However, it is not particularly clear if indeed Mutharika raised that concerns.

Lilongwe police spokesperson Kingsley Dandaula said police do not have the actual number of women who were attacked but said about three have reported to the police about the incidence. However, unconfirmed reports indicated that more than 10 women were stripped.

Dandaula confirmed that several vendors were arrested over the matter. "We are not sure about the cause but we think the suspects were doing that with an aim of stealing from these women," he said, dismissing reports that the vendors were reacting to President Bingu Wa Mutharika's remarks on the issue of women dressing indecently.

The Minister of Gender, Ms Reen Kachere, condemned the acts and warned that those found stripping women will be arrested and prosecuted. "These vendors are just trying to create panic in this city so that they can steal from shops and women. Nobody has raised concern on the way women are dressing in the country," she said. The incident has attracted wide condemnation from the public.

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