The Kingdom of Swaziland has declared a ban on mini-skirts, and women who violate the ban could spend six months in jail as punishment. Authorities cite the fact that women baring their midriff and by wearing short skirts and/or cropped shirts are provoking sexual predators.
Swaziland Police official spokesperson Wendy Hleta pointed out that according to a criminal act enacted in 1889, women who wear mini-skirts are violating Swazi law.
As explained by Aljazeera, the colonial act covers crimes of “immorality” that occur in public places, explicitly excluding women who are breastfeeding or participating in ritual ceremonies. Costumes worn by young women during traditional Swazi ceremonies are often more revealing than a mini-skirt. The skirts worn during the rituals usually cover only the front of the women, and are worn without underwear. Many times the breasts are bared as well.
Helta was quoted by BBC, explaining her feelings on the subject:
“The act of the rapist is made easy because it would be easy to remove the half-cloth worn by the women. Women who wear ‘skimpy clothes’ also draw unnecessary attention to themselves. I have read from the social networks that men and even other women have a tendency of ‘undressing people with their eyes’. That becomes easier when the clothes are hugging or are more revealing.”
Officials claim that renewed enforcement of the 1889 law is in response to an increase in crimes against women. Last month, Swazi women clad in mini-skirts attempted a protest in an effort to gain more police protection from being raped. Protests are not allowed by law, and the march was blocked by police.
Any woman arrested for violating the law will be fined the equivalent of $10 and could spend six months in jail.