Lilongwe vendors undress women in ‘leggings’

Irate male youth claiming to be street sellers in the capital city Lilongwe on Tuesday embarrassingly striped naked women who had put on trousers and the latest trend in fashion amongst the ladies, the leggings.

The boys accused the women of improper and indescent dressing.

Nyasa Times correspondent Dennis Chirwa said he saw the gang stripping naked women putting on trousers and they were tearing them into pieces.

The whole saga started in the populous township of Chinsapo where vendors were showering insults on any lady putting on a trouser or mini skirt.

At old town near Shoprite, a lady who was in a min skirt was rescued by a fellow woman after vendors descended on her.

Vendors said some women dressing like these are provocative. This picture had nothing to do with the attack in Lilongwe

According to Aubrey Mayowe, who was at the scene of the incidence, the vendors started showering insults to the lady, “ Pita kavale iwe osatu zomwe wavalazo. Abwana atiuza kuti mkazi wovala trouser amawoneka ngati chidole tizikuvulani (go and dress up properly not the the way you have put on. The President has said any woman who puts on a trouser is like  a doll).

He went on to narrate that after things went sour a fellow woman who was driving  evacuated her to safety.

Many ladies in the capital city were forced to buy wrappers to cover their knee shot skirts in fear of being stripped naked.

At the main entrance of Shoprite there were many girls, who were hiding in fear of vendors.

Esther Mbalule, a resident of Area 49 told Nyasa Times that she could not even move an inch to board a  bus because vendors were threatening to undress them.

She said there were ugly scenes around Shoprite, Game Stores and Constantine Company.

Another Nyasa Times correspondent Wanga Gwede said he saw a woman with her boobs, buttocks caressed in public by the boys.

One of the boys said the sexual attractive ‘see through’ leggings  “were provocative” to the men.

“This is an exercise to teach woman how to dress,” one of the young boys is reported to have said.

In Area 23 Police fired teargas as the angry men were pelting stones on the law enforcers.

A Nyasa Times correspondent Jeromy Kadewrere witnessed men hunting for women in mini buses at the Lilongwe bus station.

Lilongwe police spokesman Kingsley Dandula assured that the police will protect all ladies in trousers and min skirts because it was their right to freedom of dressing according to the constitution.

The pandemonium on Tuesday brought business in the capital city to a standstill  as many shops  closed  in fear of violence.

Minister of Gender Reeen Kachere has since expressed dismay with the conduct of the boys calling it “mob sexual harrassment”  and some activist swarned that if the stripping of women naked is not brought to a stop, the women will crush perpetrators.

Vendors at the main entrance of Game stores shop selling Zitenje in Lilongwe which were on demand after attacks on women.Photo: Jeromy Kadewere/Nyasa Times

Under one party dictatorship, late President Ngwazi Kamuzu Banda disapproved of liberal Western fashions  and restricted freedom of dressing.

However, things changed  when the country adopted democracy and  Bakili Muluzi assumed the Presidency in 2004, the new constitution allowed women to wear pants instead of obligatory ankle-length dresses and permitted men to sport shoulder-length hair.

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