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Cops tell girls to cover up!

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MANZINI – Close to 50 women in skimpy miniskirts while others wore tight fitting jeans were told to cover up by the police before they could participate in a march around the city centre and bus rank yesterday.

The ‘miniskirt march’ by young women was aimed at voicing their concerns about constant harassment by public transport employees.

According to police analysis, this was too revealing. Swazi-land has joined the rest of the world to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

Initially, the girls were determined to stop the continued harassment of young women and girls wearing miniskirts and other revealing clothing.

The drama started to unfold in the morning when they went to the Manzini Charge Office for formalities on the intended march.

The police succinctly stated that they would not allow the march to continue if the women insisted on wearing miniskirts and other revealing clothes, much to their disappointment.

Some were forced to change their outfits completely while others got kangas and wrapped them over their miniskirts, thus defeating what they had intended to achieve. The women were disappointed and they let their feelings known.

They felt that the police should have, instead of forcing them to change, offered them protection and more understanding to what they had set out to achieve.

Swaziland Young Women (SYWON) National Director Hleli Luhlanga expressed her disappointment at the police’s reaction towards their dress code.

Luhlanga said the police action was uncalled for as they were trying to send a message to the general public, especially the perpetrators, regarding the humiliation of young women who are judged as inappropriately dressed.

The police, however, maintained their stand and said this was tantamount to public indecency and ordered that the girls should cover up in order for them to continue with their intended march.

No amount of pleading swayed the police’s stand.

After the deliberations which lasted for almost two hours, the march started at around 11:30am.

The marchers, led by St Paul’s Primary School brass band, left from the Bosco Skill Centre to the Jubilee Park, situated in the city centre. Along the way to the park, the leaders would address marchers and members of the public who took time to listen about harassment, humiliation and abuse faced by women in the country.

Worth noting is that the police provided protection and order while the girls marched across Manzini. Upon reaching Jubilee Park, the women were again addressed by their leaders.

Interestingly, one of the marchers, Baphilile Lukhele testified that she was once harassed at the Manzini Bus Rank for wearing a miniskirt.

She said the interesting thing about her situation was that the perpetrator was a woman. "I was walking along Market Street, and a woman said ‘senawa bafana base rank (you have lost your touch bus rank boys).’ And the boys started whistling, and harassing me," she said.

Lukhele said she was forced to fight back to free herself and escape the harassment.

Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Wendy Hleta clarified that the police had to adhere to the law as public indecency was a crime. Hleta said some of the girls’ clothes were too revealing, which was the reason why they were told to cover up.

Superintendent Hleta said there was the issue of public indecency that was upheld as it was law. She said it was unlawful for women to wear things that were of public indecency.

"People should respect and consider their dress code especially in the environment they are in. Yes in cultural events, like the Reed Dance, there is an understanding and people can not harass you because of the nature of the event. We, however, do not encourage people to resolve to mob justice, instead they should report to the police if it is a genuine case of public indecency," Hleta said.

 

Early this year, a young woman who was wearing leggings and a top was ridiculed, humiliated and harassed while at the Manzini Bus Rank by public transport employees for being inappropriately dressed.

Police shouldn’t have analysed our bodies

 

MANZINI – Swaziland Young Women (SYWON) National Director Hleli Luhla-nga expressed disappointment at the police’s reaction towards their dress code.

Luhlanga said this was uncalled for as they were trying to send a message to the general public especially the perpetrators regarding the humiliation of young women who are judged as inappropriately dressed.

"I was expecting the police to support our agenda and not to analyse our bodies and deciding that some of the miniskirts were too revealing.

Protecting

"This has just manifested itself, police are state agents and should be protecting us. We are young women and are proud of our bodies, which belong to us. We want to reclaim our bodies and nobody has the right to tell us what to wear and not to wear as long as we are comfortable in them," Luhlanga said.

 


COMMENTS:

 - They are mad
December 8, 2012, 10:00 am, Unknown

 - This is quite disturbing. I understand the women's plight, but not the dress code. U are not helping,really. Why the mini-skirts nje? Seriously, the best that can come out is that even the dumbest male get the point that the only important part of a women is 'down there'. This is like marching for disarmaments whilst carrying weapons of mass destruction.
December 8, 2012, 10:00 am, Tee Dee

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