Malawi women threaten ‘naked’ protests

Women activist have threatened that they will mobilise women to the streets to perform a naked protest if streets vendors will continue harassing them for wearing trousers, miniskirts or see-through leggings.

Vendors in the capital Lilongwe on Tuesday vented their anger for being removed from the streets by attacking women who wore trousers, miniskirts and the latest trend in fashion amongst the ladies, the leggings.

A number of women were undressed by the mob of the male vendors.

Catherine Munthali, executive director of the National Women’s Lobby says Malawi women are “annoyed” with what happened and threatened to embark on naked protest .

“If this barbaric behavior by the male vendors is unstopped, women will strip off and protest,”Munthali said.

Seodi White, executive director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) condemned the attack by vendors, saying provocation is not an excuse to attack women.

“Why shouldmen be offended by merely seeing a thigh of a woman,” she wondered.

She said: “A decent Malawian man would propose to a lady and not strip her naked because she has exposed her body parts.”

Minister of Gender, Reene Kachere, said government will ensure the police protect women fully so that they exercise their freedom of dressing like their men counterparts.

Kachere said women are free to wear mini-skirst, saying “there is no law that bars a woman from wearing a skirt.”

She called on police to hunt down the male vendors who were perpertrating the stripping action on women and that the sentencing at court should be stiff.

Boycott

Meanwhile,  Dorothy Ngoma, head of the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives and Lucky Mbewe, of the Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education, called for a two-week boycott  against male vendors.

“From today women should not buy from male vendors until there is an apology,” said Ngomasaid to reporters.

“Nurses wear trousers because it is cold at night. We treated many of vendors when they were shot during demonstrations, should we stop assisting them,” Ngoma added.

Martha Kwataine of the Malawi Health Equity Network said the vendors should take their problems to the one who created them, President Bingu wa Mutharika.

“The President should learn politics of appeasement do not work. He has created this problem for the Police, City Council and now even women by hosting these people to beer parties and allowing them to trade anywhere. He should come and address these problems,” said Kwataine.

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