Mzuzu thugs emulate Lilongwe colleagues
Wednesday, 18 January 2012 12:04 Austine Jere: Malawi Nation
Just 24 hours after unidentified people in Lilongwe stripped naked women and girls in trousers, the situation was on Wednesday replicated in Mzuzu where women in trousers were chased, booed and undressed.
The harassment paralysed business, shocked onlookers and turned the city into a male domain as women felt unsafe to walk around the city’s central business district.
Mzuzu police spokesperson Edward Longwe confirmed the development on Wednesday morning, calling the practice as barbaric.
“We were informed that some people are undressing women in trousers. So we deployed officers to patrol the streets as we wanted to ensure security of women regardless of whether they are putting on trousers or mini-skirts,” said Longwe.
“Every person has freedom of dressing and it is barbaric for people to be roaming the city and undressing women. They just want to spark commotion and take advantage of it to start looting shops.”
Eyewitnesses said the practice started around 8am at the city centre when a lady dressed in a pair of trousers was jeered and booed at while others attempted to undress her.
This prompted some ladies to run and hide in shops while others bought wrappers to wear over their trousers.
Police officers later stormed the streets to quell the pandemonium which saw Asian businesspeople closing shops prematurely for fear of possible looting.
Police Mobile Services patrolled the city to maintain peace and protect women from the harassment.
However, Mzuzu main market chairperson Juma Umar denied it was vendors behind the violence.
“I have heard that women are being undressed in town, but no vendor is there. It’s just some criminals doing that. They claim that women have gone overboard in dressing so they need to be slowed down,” said Umar.
An observer, who declined to be identified, said the actions were aimed at restoring Malawian culture by flashing out “western forms of dressing”, citing wearing of leggings as unMalawian and disrespectful.
“Women are misusing freedom of dressing. The leggings they are putting on disrespect Malawian culture,” he said.
“These leggings or trousers are usually tight and sometimes transparent. But women put them and start moving in town. What do they want men to do? Such practices have to be stopped forthwith.”
Meanwhile police said the number of women who suffered the harassment in Mzuzu was not known and no arrest had been made in connection with the malpractice.