Malawi President: Women Should Be Free to Wear What They Want

In Malawi, violent conservatives have recently been attacking women and stripping them on the streets. The victims have been singled out for wearing “nontraditional dress” – in this case, pants.

Last week, President Bingu wa Mutharika condemned the attacks in a national radio broadcast. “I will not allow anyone to … go on the streets and start undressing women and girls wearing trousers, because that is illegal,” he said, according to the BBC.

“You are free to wear what you want,” the President added. “Women who want to wear trousers should do so, as you will be protected from thugs, vendors and terrorists.”

Malawian Police reportedly arrested several street vendors believed responsible for the attacks, which have occurred in the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre. Activists and women’s rights groups have planned protests and other events across the southern African nation.

“We are calling on all women and men of goodwill to urgently converge … for constructive engagement on the protection of women and the defense of their rights in a democratic Malawi,” said Seodi White, one of the country’s leading activists. “[We stand] in solidarity with the victims and … express our indignation at such barbaric treatment of mothers, wives and daughters of our country.”

Women in Malawi were banned from wearing pants and other “nontraditional” clothing items, such as mini-skirts, until 1994. Some officials are blaming the recent attacks on economic hardship.

“There is so much suffering that people have decided to vent their frustrations on each other,” Vice President Joyce Banda told the BBC.


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Image credit: Steve Conover (Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike License)


Natasha Salgado
Past Member 5 years ago

What a revelation...YEPEE...

Ana Passos
Ana Passos5 years ago


Silvia G.
Silvia G5 years ago

Nice the president thinks this way!

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

So when things get tough, it's OK to vent your frustration towards people with less power than you?

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener6 years ago


Jackie Agusta
Jackie Agusta6 years ago

It's nice to see the president protecting his women, more often than not women in these countries and their rights are completely ignored, so fair play to him :-)

Anne D.
Anne D6 years ago

thank you

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim6 years ago

I'm glad to hear the president is against the attacks.

Meta R.
Meta Reid6 years ago

May President Bingu wa Mutharika hold fast to his principles!!

marc horton
marc horton6 years ago

the world is watching...please put these men in jail for their crimes against women