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Police to arrest women in miniskirts

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MBABANE –Police, fresh from halting a young women activists’ miniskirt march at the Manzini Bus Rank, Wendy Hleta, their spokesperson says mini-skirts, crop tops and skimpy dresses that reveal parts of the female body are illegal.

Crop tops are tops which expose part of the stomach.

People who wear these types of clothing risk being arrested and prosecuted.

This is because these clothes are deemed to be indecent, immoral and have an element of nudity.

Hleta said there is a law, which she identified as classified under Common Law and statutory law under the Crimes Act promulgated in 1889 outlaws this type of clothing.

She said it would take one person to lay a complaint with the police then they would not hesitate but put the offender behind bars.

The law that outlaws miniskirts is the Crimes Act number six of 1889 part V, section 49 which controls "immorality and offences in public places or places of public resort and control of places of public interest’.

Hleta said in recent  history the law, has not been enforced but since the society of Manzini, especially the bus rank, have voiced it out that they were not happy with miniskirts, people should know the existence of this law.

She said section 49 (1) (b) which states that a person shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred Emalangeni or in default thereof imprisonment not exceeding six months, "....who in or within sight of a public place, or in a public resort indecently exposes his person or makes indecent signs or gestures.

Hleta said the common law in Swaziland detects a criminal act called indecent exposure which entails deliberate showing a potion of your body be it male or female.

She said this kind of behaviour varies from society to society and was dependant on the local moral standards in that society. She said the essence of the law was that clothing that revealed body parts were immoral and, therefore, illegal.

Nevertheless this will obviously exclude exposure of body parts due to breast feeding and cultural regalia that is acceptable in cultural activity.

The mother of two teenagers said a lot of young girls had the tendency of going to malls for shopping or leisure wearing miniskirts and said this invites people who do not approve of this to emotionally abuse the youth by harassing them. 

"Our children must dress for the occasion. Short skirts for their parties and since they are aware of the disapproval in bus ranks, they must avoid going there to avoid unnecessary embarrassment and emotional dent. Parents should also assist their children with the truth as some do not really look good in those minis and it even embarrasses females to see another female exposing her back-side or even underwear. For females it is polite that when you have dropped something, squat with your upper body still up right and pick the item rather than bending half your body head first to pick the item," Hleta said.

She said the Manzini Bus Rank was one area that had openly rejected mini- skirts.

Hleta said this place was male dominated and people who worked there have shown that they did not appreciate seeing women half dressed at their place of work.

"To show that the society there does not embrace skimpiness, women vendors who work at the bus rank assist the half dressed women by borrowing them kangas, to cover up when they are attacked.

"It’s a pity that there are people who have been physically violated at the bus rank. We do not encourage that women should be harmed but at the same time people should note acceptable conduct or behaviours from one society to the other," she said.

Hleta said she loved fashion and loved being beautiful but said being a fashionista should always be confined to the limits of modesty, self respect and confidence. She said she always encourages her children to follow fashion trends that were acceptable to society while guiding them on how other people might take their taste.

"One of my children is very fond of short and skimpy dresses, but is flexible when she is told how other people may criticise an outfit and she is flexible to view it as constructive criticism that may create a responsible future young woman," she said. She said all women were blessed with beauty which was unique and always attractive to men.

"When dressed in skimpy clothing they invite more interest from men who feast their eyes on them in appreciation which is a thing that happens even if you are well covered with clothes. I have read from one of the social networks that men and even other women have a tendency of ‘undressing people with their eyes’, this becomes easier when the clothes are hugging or are more revealing," she said.

She said another problem with the revealing clothes was that it made it easier for men to tear away the clothing during rape, but really this does not mean that man should make a dress code an issue in a rape case since it is not an issue or an element in the crime. Police only enquire about what the victim wore for exhibit record and other relevant evidential reasons.

 "The act of the rapist is made easy because it would be easy to remove the half cloth worn by the woman," she said. She said the risk of rape was not worth the miniskirts or skimpy dresses. Hleta said the fact that miniskirts were outlawed in the country does not mean that when women wearing miniskirts were violated would not be attended to by police.

"We will not judge them but we will assist them with due respect and the offenders will be arrested," she said.

"We are still awaiting the Sexual Offence and Domestic Violence Bill of 2009 as it makes it an offence to stalk or harass women in any nature."

She said should this Bill pass, then females may heave a sigh of relief.

"With hopes that they will act reasonably and with respect as I would personally be disappointed if women would take it to the level of wearing bikinis in town in the name of ‘we wear what we want’ as bikinis are common in swimming pools and the beach front," she said.



- gud move
December 23, 2012, 10:00 am, chris gwalagwala

- We sory 4 dat
December 23, 2012, 10:00 am, Mzuzu

- This law is regressive & discriminatory against women. The fact that it is so old says a lot about it. In fact it should be abolished. It exempts indlamu in the name of culture- which in my view this is double standards. I don't think invoking this law will serve any purpose but will further complicate things
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, shawn

- This is great news maphoyisa embube but have you people seen the latest children's law that was passed by parliament? It legalizes the issuance of condoms to 12 year old children! So what are we trying to prove with mini skirt issue if we legalize sex for children at 12 years old?
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, Lobusika Dlamini

- What I read in the law quoted does not, to me, outlaw mini skirts. Surely this move is a waste of the limited resources police claim to have. It is, I think, also contrary to normal constitutional norms if anything because it singles out women. Can we focus police attention to crime, where they are failing miserably?
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, Justinian Hargrove

- Its hard to understand the bizarre Swazi mentality. Each year you parade your young women and children nearly naked in cultural displays, child abuse and rape are indemic, yet you use the dress code of females as your excuse to do so little to protect them. It will be important to inform all the tourists and travel websites of your intention to arrest women who may be wearing clothing deemed perfectly acceptable in their own countries. Swazi men should also be banned from foriegn travel if they cannot control themselves, and the temptation seen elsewhere will undoubtedly turn them into rapists. How can we warn people if their is a Swazi man in their country. Perhaps they should be made to wear easily identifiable clothing such as traditional dress when travelling.
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, Theadora Bling

- Ha ha, I bet Qalalibollocki will be driving round Manzini and Mbabane in a desperate search to convict one of these predatory, abusive women or young girls.
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, d.thomas

 - shouldn't we be more concerned with improving our economy than clothing?
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, Mveli

- S.d is getting worse by the day voilating even more of people basic rights!! Now people may not wear what they Desire, its the people who aere against mini skirts who should be concerned about their selves and not other humans
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, khulani

- I really feel this is part of victim shaming for issues such as assault and rape, a woman should be free to choose whatever she wears, choosing a certain type of clothing does not put blame on the victim. Rape and sexual assault are a CRIME and have nothing to do with the person that has been attacked, never under any circumstances is it their fault. The attacker is after a sense of power and should be prosecuted for their actions. This policy is a terrible move backwards in women's rights and frankly it's preposterous.
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, Anne

- Come on Wendy,1889?I doubt we were even called a country by then..What is this joke you are bringing up!?Instead of arresting criminals,rapists plus the corrupt lot in Swaziland,police will be busy looking at girls thighs to see if they are revealing read this in almost 2013. This woman is joking.We don't pay your salary to crack boring jokes to us yeWendy.
December 23, 2012, 4:35 pm, Mduyaye

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