Zambian police distances self from indecent dressing warning

By Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka – Zambian police have dispelled reports purporting that government had banned indecent dressing in public and that it actually did not originate from its command.

A statement dated March 28 that has been circulating on various media platforms claiming to be issued by the police warned against indecent dressing.

The statement was directed to people found indecently dressed in miniskirts (any skirt that does not go below knees), leggings, skinny or ripped jeans, exposed belly button, lacy attire and sagging trousers.

The statement citing police spokeswoman Esther Katongo said that “Zambia police is concerned with the dress code of some of our women and men in public”, adding that this was a serious offence.

It warned further that persons seen in dresses that exposed their bodies to the public would be arrested with effect from 1 April.

Anyone found wanting was committing an offence and such offenders were liable to a fine of K2, 5000 (US$250) or six months  imprisonment upon being convicted by the courts of law, according to the statement.  It urged Zambians to be conversant with the attire they needed to wear to avoid being arrested.

However, Katongo has dispelled the statement purporting to have originated from the Zambian Police Service describing it as false because her office had not issued it.

“It’s not true that we have issued a warning to that effect….in fact, we have already clarified that report,” Katongo told The Southern Times in Lusaka. In recent months, some women have become victims of having their clothes torn apart for alleged indecent dress, an act which the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) condemned, describing it as barbaric and an infringement of women’s rights.

There have been recent incidents in the capital Lusaka and other towns of violence and cruelty towards women perceived to have dressed indecently.

An unidentified middle aged woman of Kabwe was late last year completely stripped naked by a horde of youths who accused her of indecent dressing.

The woman was dressed in a skimpy skirt exposing more than half her thighs.

The woman’s dressing had attracted running commentaries among taxi drivers and other passers-by who ordered her to buy a chitenge wrapper and dress decently but the woman instead told off her critics.

However, the YWCA’s central region coordinator Juliet Kawanda condemned the act describing it an assault on women.

“There is a law against indecent exposure, and instead of taking the law into their own hands by undressing a person the right thing to do is to report such a matter to the police and allow the due process of the law to take its course,” she said.

Recently another woman was stripped naked in Lusaka for indecently dressing but was saved from further humiliation by marauding youths by police that acted swiftly and took her to safety where she was given a chitenge material (cotton woven cloth) to cover herself.

April 2017
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