25 February 2013

Namibia: Protesters Defend the Mini

WHAT started with a controversial statement by the Inspector General of the Namibian Police ended with a protest by a large crowd of women, and even some men, dressed in miniskirts.

In last week Tuesday's edition of The Namibian, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga was quoted as saying that women must stop wearing skimpy miniskirts and hot-pants or face arrest. Ndeitunga was said although the police do not want to interfere in citizens' constitutional freedom, skirts that are too short and revealing "are not acceptable in African culture" and amount to public indecency.

"Those who are behaving outside the normal tradition of an African will be dealt with," he said.

From as early as Tuesday morning Namibians took to social networks Twitter and Facebook commenting on the statement by Ndeitunga. While some agreed with the Namibian police, others called it an abuse of women's rights and called for peaceful protests which led to hundreds of protesters coming together at the Zoo Park in Windhoek on Friday.

At around lunchtime, a crowd of female protesters, and even some men, showed up in miniskirts and skimpy shorts in defiance of the police's view that wearing short skirts and shorts amounts to public indecency.

A number of women and men took the opportunity to express their disappointment.

One of the speakers at the protest was Women's Solidarity director Rosa Namises, who told the crowd that there is no law against how people dress, but rather there are laws against rape and violence.

"The police should rather address these perpetrators instead of shifting the blame to the victim. How many men are in jail today for raping their own daughters? Women are being battered, children are being abused, while little children and babies are being raped," she said.

Namises said the liberation struggle was not fought so that people can continue living in fear. "I am calling all Namibians to take our freedoms."

There are already a number of cases of women being threatened with arrest because of wearing miniskirts. The miniskirt came under the spotlight over the festive season when more than 40 girls wearing hot-pants were arrested at Rundu. Kavango Deputy Commissioner Willie Bampton told Nampa earlier this year that the police would continue arresting those who are not "properly" dressed.

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