Some concerned women have planned a peaceful protest in MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s commercial city, Blantyre, on Friday following this weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attacks on women wearing trousers and miniskirts in the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s major cities.
In an interview on Wednesday, one of the organisers, Seodi White, said the planned protest, to be held at St Michael & All Angels Multi-purpose Hall, will not involve walking on the streets to avoid other people taking advantage to cause problems.
White, who is executive director of the Women and Law in Southern Africa (Wilsa), said men are encouraged to join the peaceful protest which will be marked by speeches, prayers and singing.
“The aim of the protest is to show solidarity for womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rights and women dignity and sending a clear message that we are not going back to the past,” said White, referring to the one-party era when women were banned from wearing trousers and miniskirts.
She said the activists are organising the protest in conjunction with other women and religious leaders in society.
In Mzuzu on Wednesday, a group of youths also attacked women, claiming they were following an unspecified government order.
However, police, who came to the rescue of women, trashed the vendorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ claim, saying Malawi is a democratic country and women have the freedom of dress.
The police were also seen helping women wearing trousers by keeping them in their vehicles.
College of Medicine psychology professor Chiwoza Bandawe linked the youth behaviour to “purely frustration” out of something.
Said Bandawe: “ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mob-psychology where people lose individual behaviour because they are in a group. Secondly, this is done out of frustration economically or otherwise and they choose vulnerable groups, hence the women.”
But he wondered why the youth would want women to dress decently, but at the same time indecently assault them.
Business came to a standstill in Mzuzu from about 8 am as vendors violently chased women who were dressed in trousers, miniskirts and leggings.
Meanwhile, the Youth Association for Democracy (Yadema) has claimed that members of Lilongwe VendorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Association who witnessed the Tuesday attacks, reported that women were harassed in full view of police officers.
Yadema said as much as the police later tried to rescue some women stuck in town, nothing was done in respect of the terrorist group members.
But national police spokesperson Davie Chingwalu said it is unfair for Yadema to condemn the police because the perpetrators were not let scot-free. He said the police cannot apologise on that account.
In a statement, Chingwalu said there is no law that forbids women from wearing trousers and miniskirts. He described the conduct of “misguided vendors” as inhuman.Ã¢â‚¬â€With additional reporting by GEORGE SINGINI, Staff Reporter
- The attacks on women started in Lilongwe on Tuesday and spread to Mzuzu on Wednesday.
- MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s laws provide for the freedom of dress as well as movement.