While debate on the barbaric ‘undress women campaign’ some youths in Malawi’s three cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu staged this week continues, representatives of the vendors in Mzuzu city have maintained that much as they do not champion what occurred, women must refrain from wearing inviting attires.
The vendors’ representatives spoke Thursday during a dialogue meeting organised by NICE and attended by activists, police and vendors’ representatives.
The dialogue meeting was organised to find out what really happened, who were behind the incident and how to avoid such ugly incidents in future.
During the meeting, the vendors’ leadership started by disowning the perpetrators of the dishonorable acts claiming they were not genuine vendors before accusing the women for not respecting their bodies with their designer outfits.
One of the meeting attendees, Wezi Moyo from Action Aid said after a long deliberation the stakeholders finally agreed on a number of points of action.
Among the points, the vendors’ leaders owned the problem and pledged to cooperate in addressing it by helping to identify those involved in the matter and report them to police.
According to Moyo, the vendor leadership also agreed to address their respective sections on the need to respect women and stop humiliating them.
The meeting also agreed that the police must work hand in hand with the vendors’ sectional leaders in driving the message home.
And finally, Moyo said, members of the civil society took upon themselves to ensure that they follow through with long term interventions such as mass education, monitoring the safety situation of women in the cities and enforcement of the law.
Meanwhile, the National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) says it the Malawi Constitution now guarantees everyone freedom of expression which includes freedom of dress the right to privacy and includes the right to be left alone.
“It is futile to use culture as a basis for this disgusting act. Our Malawian culture is deeply rooted in respect of each other and every individual should not live in fear and intimidation; in addition respect for women is the core and essence of our Malawian spirit,” the Council said in a statement.
During the 1963-1994 dictatorship of the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda, women in Malawi were banned from wearing trousers. Banda’s “indecency in dress” laws were repealed when democracy came in 1994.
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