Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika has warned that he will arrest anyone who attacks women and girls wearing trousers and miniskirts two days after the country’s major cities saw women being stripped naked wearing trousers.
Malawi used to have strict laws and banned women from wearing trousers. This changed in 1994 when the country ushered in democracy and ditched a 30 year dictatorship under late Kamuzu Banda.
But this week, street vendors in the major cities attacked women over their clothing, saying they were enforcing a government decree.
“I will not allow anyone to wake up and go on the streets and start undressing women and girls wearing trousers because that is illegal,” Mutharika said in an address on state radio.
“Every woman and girl has the right to dress the way they wish in this country,” he said.
The assaults started in the capital Lilongwe two days ago and spread to the commercial city of Blantyre and then Mzuzu as several women in trousers and miniskirts were stopped, beaten up and stripped naked.
“No one should lie that I have asked vendors to assault women dressed in trousers, its a lie and I will not allow that,” Mutharika said, under fire from activists who now blame his party.
Women’s groups, angry with Mutharika’s administration, are planning matches to protests the attacks on Friday.
Meanwhile, police have arrested 15 vendors involved in the harassment of women