Women launch ‘Lelo nkugule, Mawa undivule’ campaign

Following ugly scenes that occurred in Malawi’s three main cities of Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Blantyre where men were undressing women found wearing trousers, miniskirts and leggings, Malawian women have launched a campaign dubbing it Lelo N’kugule, Mawa Undivule?

The campaign, which literally means ‘today I buy from you, tomorrow you undress me?’ took off Wednesday afternoon and all Malawian women have agreed not buy from vendors until the perpetrators issue a public apology.

The women in the country have been using every mode of communication (text messages, emails, Facebook, and Twitter) to alert their friends to join the campaign.

Seodi: We will hold protests

“All ladies in Malawi have, with effect from 18 January 2012, agreed to boycott buying from all male vendors for over a month or until they apologise for the barbaric behaviour they displayed and men who respect women, are welcome to join in too,” said a message by one of the organisers.

Their move comes hours after women activists also threatened to 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.

Some strippers said they attacked women who wore trousers, miniskirts and the ladies latest trend in fashion, the leggings as a way of venting their frustration and anger on President Bingu wa Mutharika administration.

They said the move was to draw attention from the authorities because they no longer have hope in their future and welfare after they were promised a lot of things but nothing has so far materialised.

One Lilongwe based lady activist, Sophie Munthali who was a victim of undress women campaign, shared her ordeal with colleagues on one of the civil society forums.

“I can’t believe that it is happening in this country. I am one of the victims, I was humbly walking from minibus depot and going up to the main depot and vendors started taking off my clothes. Fortunetly (sic) a friend in a car saw me, he came out quickly and take into his car (sic) that is how I was rescued.

“I was about to go back home necked (sic). As activists let’s do something please, we can’t wait for the government because am told that somebody from the same government gave them directive kuti azitivula [to be undressing us], if you need more information give me a call please,” Munthali wrote civil society network forum.

Catherine Munthali, executive director of the National Women’s Lobby said 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.

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

Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA) Executive Director Seodi White has since confirmed that gender activists have planned to protest against the nasty incidents in Lilongwe this coming Friday in Blantyre

CHRR, CEDEP weigh in

Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Center for the Development of People (CEDEP) have also condemned the notorious incident in Lilongwe calling it an outrage to the conscience of the nation.

“The savage behaviour” the organisations said, “has no place in our democracy.”

The watchdogs said besides, the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi provides for freedom of expression which encompasses the freedom to express yourself through dressing, and the right to privacy under Sections 35 and 21 respectively.

The acts perpetrated by the thugs constitute a material breach of these constitutional provisions and are therefore illegal and out of sync with the country’s democratic values.

“Undressing women in public is a taboo in our culture. Suffice to say that the women and girls who were being undressed are our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and our wives,” the two NGO’s said.

They urged  the police to unearth the origins of this weird phenomenon.

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