A VIDEO of a woman stripped naked in public in Kenya last week has left many outraged and sparked social media outcry. Twitter users are now standing up for the woman, using the hashtag #MyDressMyChoice as a call to action.
The video, taken at a Nairobi bus stop, shows the woman surrounded by men who then strip her for “dressing improperly”. Kenyan police are investigating the incident with witnesses claiming that the offenders are ticket collectors for a local bus company. The firm has denied the men were its staff.
A popular Kenyan Facebook group, “Kilimani Mums Nairobi”, is set to stage a mini skirt protest at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park on November 17 in support of the victim and in objection to violence and sexual assault against women.
There is growing concern over the rise in such cases Kenya, with another woman at the weekend subjected to a similar ordeal in the coastal city of Mombasa. They are not alone.
The public stripping of women continues to take place across the continent, mostly as a horrifically crude form of humiliation. In Nigeria last year, a lady was harassed and stripped for wearing a mini-skirt, in Malawi women were stripped for wearing trousers and not traditional dress and in Zambia dozens of women a few years ago were publicly stripped in Lusaka for wearing mini-skirts or trousers.
Meanwhile in Uganda the government signed sweeping new “pornography legislation” in February which also aimed to outlaw miniskirts and other types of revealing clothing. Dubbed the “mini-skirt ban”, this new legislation resulted in a rise in attacks against women as mobs used it as an excuse to target and strip people they consider to be improperly dressed.
In solidarity with the right of women to choose what they wear and against this form of female harassment, Mail and Guardian Africa calls on all women to post a photograph of themselves, a “selfie”, wearing what they choose, using ”#MyDressMyChoice” and “@MandGAfrica” on twitter or on our Facebook page.