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article imageWomen protest mini-skirt ban in Windhoek, Namibia (video)

By Anne Sewell     Feb 23, 2013 in Lifestyle
Windhoek - Namibian women were out in the streets of Windhoek in their hundreds, protesting over police intentions to arrest women wearing mini-skirts for "indecency."
Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, saw over 300 women protesting in Windhoek's Zoo Park, carrying banners reading, "Arrest rapists and not fashionists" and "How dare you minimize my freedom of choice."
Organized by the Women in Solidarity organization, the protest happened after 40 girls were arrested for wearing mini-skirts in December 2012 in Rundu, around 700 kms north of Windhoek.
Top law enforcer in the city, Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga, insists that if women are found outside to be dressed indecently, they will be arrested. He claims that alluring dress provokes rape, adding that those who wear mini-skirts should "cover the essentials."
He told the local media on Tuesday, "At least put on something, even if it's short it should cover the essentials. You can't walk in town while people can see your buttocks. I don't want to prescribe how people should wear, even if it's new fashion style, it should be within our tradition."
"Those who are behaving outside the normal tradition of an African will be dealt with. At Rundu, both traditional and political leaders were happy and supported our actions," he added.
Ndeitunga also blamed media reports for causing public outrage over his alleged threat to arrest any woman found wearing "short and revealing" mini-skirts, as he claimed his words were misquoted.
"I did not say we will arrest those in mini-skirts. I was talking about indecent dressing,” he stressed.
While younger women and human rights activists do not take well to the initiative, some elder Namibian citizens apparently praised the police for acting on mini-skirts.
However, Rachel Coomer of the Legal Assistance Center argued against Ndeitunga's remarks saying, "A person who has been raped should not be blamed for the rape. This includes what they were wearing at the time the rape occurred."
Vice Chairperson of the National Council of Namibia Margaret Mensa-Williams, agreed that the wearing of mini-skirts does not cause women to be raped.
"That is absolutely nonsense in my eyes. Babies and children are raped. What revealing clothes do they wear? How does a six-month-old or a one-year-old entice and encourage these so-called rapists," she said.
Despite arguments on both sides, Namibia does have one of the highest levels of violence against women, with 38 women killed during sexual assault related crimes in 2012.
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