Women protest over trouser stripping

2012-01-20 19:27
Blantyre - About 2 000 Malawian women on Friday staged a protest against attacks on trouser-wearing women, who were stripped in the streets this week by a gang of unemployed youths and sidewalk vendors.

"We have to say no to abuse against women. We have to fight for women's rights," Vice President Joyce Banda told the women, clad in white t-shirts in the commerical capital Blantyre.

Banda, the country's first female vice president, said she wanted to "show solidarity" with fellow women at the event organised by leading rights activists.

Dressed in overflowing white robes, Banda joined the audience in dancing to Bob Marley's tune, "No woman no cry", blaring from speakers.

The event was also attended by several ministers and opposition figures.

Some women wore "Peace" t-shirts and others bore messages in local Chichewa language "Venda, Ndikugule, Undibvulenso ???", which can be loosely translated as "Vendor, I buy from you and you strip me naked???".

On Wednesday police annonced that 15 men had been arrested in connection with the incident, prompting President Bingu wa Mutharika to defend women's right to wear whatever they liked.

Until 1994, women in this deeply conservative poor nation were banned from wearing pants, during the long dictatorship of Kamuzu Banda.

"Malawian women want to take back their diginity," said Seodi White, one of the organisers of the protest.

"There should be no difference between men and women," she said.

Read more on:    joyce banda  |  bingu wa mutharika  |  malawi  |  southern africa  |  gender equality

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