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Malawi: Women accused of indecency stripped naked by men

Malawi men strip women naked for wearing "un-African" clothes.
Malawi women stripped clothes 2012 1 20Enlarge
A woman washes clothes as children play along the Saga beach, at Lake Malawi, on July 17, 2011. (Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — There's a whole lot of nastiness that gets done under the guise of religious or traditional beliefs but Malawi is busy displaying one of the more bizarre examples.

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Lately gangs of young men, mostly street hawkers, have been attacking women wearing trousers or short skirts.

Horrified by their brazen dress (and perhaps over-excited and more than a little repressed) the men have stripped their victims naked there and then on the streets of the two main cities Blantyre and Liliongwe.

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The attackers claimed that the women's choice of clothing was un-African and that they were simply enforcing a government decree.

That may have been the case 20-years ago under the waning dictatorship of Hastings Banda who did indeed enforce a law banning women from
wearing trousers.

But with Banda went the law, as current President Bingu wa Mutharika explained on state radio:

"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. Every woman and girl has the right to dress the way they wish. No one should lie that I have asked vendors to assault women dressed in trousers. It's a lie and I will not allow that."

Nor will Malawi's women, thousands of whom are holding a public protest against the attacks wearing, of course, trousers.

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