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Malawi police arrest forty “thugs” for attacks on women

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Blantyre market, MalawiSummary of story from The Maravi Post, January 23, 2012

Around 40 people have been arrested in Malawi in connection with attacks on women for wearing trousers or mini-skirts, police report.

The assaults took place in the three major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. Women were beaten and stripped by vendors in the cities (see WVoN story).

National police spokesman Davie Chingwalu described the suspects as “thugs” and said they will be charged with robbery, assault and “infringing upon the modesty of women.”

Following the attacks hundreds of women, joined by men and politicians, held a demonstration denouncing the harassment of women.

They carried placards with protest messages such as “Real Men Do Not Bother Women” and “Women, Like Men, Are Free To Wear What They Want.”

The issue is reminiscent of Malawi’s 30 year dictatorship under founding President Hastings Banda, when women were banned from dressing in trousers or mini-skirts, and men were banned from wearing bell-bottom trousers and long hair (dreadlocks).

Dr Ngeyi Kanyongolo, a law lecturer at the University of Malawi, said: “It’s shocking that in 2012 we should be here discussing these issues while we did away with Indecency In Dress Laws some 18 years ago.”

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