‘Essential’ freedom: Namibian women protest against mini-skirt ban
Over 300 women gathered in central Windhoek's Zoo Park carrying banners, stating "How dare you minimize my freedom of choice" and "Arrest rapists and not fashionists."
The demonstration was organized by the Women in Solidarity organization.
Top policeman Sebastian Ndeitunga insisted that if women are found outside to be dressed indecently, they will be arrested, claiming that alluring dress provokes rape, adding that those who wear mini-skirts should "cover the essentials."
"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," local media quoted the country’s top law enforcer as saying on Tuesday.
"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.
His comments came after the arrest of 40 mini-skirted girls last December in Rundu, about 700 km north of Windhoek.
The general blamed media reports for causing public outrage connected with his alleged threat to have any woman found wearing "short and revealing" mini-skirts arrested, as Ndeitunga claimed his worlds were misquoted.
"I did not say we will arrest those in mini-skirts. I was talking about indecent dressing,” maintained Ndeitunga.
Some elder Namibian citizens praised the police for acting on mini-skirts, but other, particularly younger women and human rights activists, didn’t take well the police chief’s initiative. Rachel Coomer of the Legal Assistance Center slammed Ndeitunga’s comments.
"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," she told Xinhua news agency.
Vice Chairperson of the Namibian National Council Margaret Mensa-Williams, also dismissed the notion that the wearing of mini-skirts causes 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 entice and encourage these so-called rapists," she said.
Namibia has one of the highest cases of violence against women with 38 women losing their lives to sexual assault related crimes in 2012 alone.