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Malawi women beaten for wearing trousers


Summary of story from BBC, January 20, 2012

Some female vendors were this week beaten and stripped for wearing trousers on the streets of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi and its largest city, Blantyre.

Close to 3,000 people gathered in Blantyre, Malawi to protest the attacks.

Until 1994, women were banned from wearing trousers or mini-skirts under the autocratic rule of Hastings Banda.

Men were also banned from having long hair.

Women have been attacked for wearing trousers in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe in recent years.

Current President Bingu wa Mutharika has said on national radio that women had the right to wear what they want. He denied reports that he had ordered women to stop wearing trousers.

Seodi White, a lawyer and leading women’s rights activist and protest organiser, said the women were not dressing indecently.

“We are going to show our displeasure, our outrage, our unhappiness, our shock at the way some Malawian men have chosen to treat women”, she said.

President Mutharika on Thursday made a nationwide broadcast, calling for an end to the attacks.

“I will not allow anyone to… go on the streets and start undressing women and girls wearing trousers, because that is illegal,” he said.

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