Ugandan minister plans crackdown on ‘indecent’ women’s clothing

2013-04-09 15:34

Ugandan Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo plans to push through laws that would curtail what women are allowed to wear in public, including so-called immodest dress on TV.

“My problem is about indecent dressing and the exposure of the body to provoke onlookers,” Lokodo said. “My job is to legislate on the promotion of moral values.”

“We are banning indecent and pornographic pictures on television and even obscenities on radio and nudity in dancing and cinema halls,” the minister said in a telephone interview.

“It will be illegal to produce a programme involving indecently dressed people on TV.”

His bill has not yet been presented to Parliament. Lokodo has in the past been at the forefront of moves against Uganda’s beleaguered gay community.

The latest legislative proposal is reminiscent of legislation imposed by military dictator Idi Amin in the 1970s. During his eight-year rule, women in Uganda largely wore long dresses that reached their ankles.

Lokodo, a former Catholic priest, said the bill would also bar nightclubs from presenting a form of nude dancing, known in the East African nation as kimansulo.

Critics said enforcing the law would not be easy and could violate human rights.

“We should not legislate on moral issues but instead educate people on morals,” said Livingstone Ssewannyana, the executive director of the rights group Foundation for Human Rights Initiative.

“You cannot sustain this law.”

“This law cannot be a panacea because it will be difficult to strike a delicate balance between morality and freedom of expression,” Ssewannyana said.

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