Uganda’s controversial ‘mini-skirt ban’ is resulting in an increased level of harassment against women in the country’s streets.The recently signed Anti-Pornography Act 2014, defines pornography as “any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement”. Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister, has vowed that women wearing clothing that stopped above the knee would be arrested. Reports in Ugandan press state that groups of men, claiming to be helping the police enforce the law, have publicly stripped naked eight women wearing miniskirts in Eastern Uganda in the past week. Although the police have issued a statement condemning those who engaged in “mob undressing”, women in the country are living in fear of harassment and violence over their clothing choices.
On Tuesday, Women in Uganda gathered in the capital Kampala to protest against the law. Although prevented by police from marching through the streets of the capital, around 200 women gathered outside the national theatre as officers in riot gear watched on.
One woman’s placard read: “my body my business”, while another woman held a card saying: “thou shalt not touch my miniskirt”.
The law does not mention the term “miniskirt” outright, but bans women from exposing their breasts, buttocks and thighs, and from “ dressing indecently in a manner to sexually excite”.
The ‘miniskirt ban’ is not the only controversial Ugandan law that has made headlines this week. On Tuesday, President Yoweri Museveni signed a separate anti-gay bill into law. The law allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality” and criminalises the “promotion of homosexuality”. The new law has been met with severe criticism from the international community.
In response, World Bank postponed a $90m (£54m) loan over the anti-gay bill.
“We have postponed the project for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law,” World Bank spokesman David Theis said in an email, according to the Guardian.
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