NAIROBI, Nov 18 – Kenyans took to the streets of Nairobi on Monday to send a message to men: Stop attacking women because of the way they dress. The protests followed the latest incident of a woman stripped naked in the capital by a group of men who accused her of “indecent” dressing. The attack captured on video last week prompted outrage on social media under the hashtag #mydressmychoice.
Protesters marched through downtown carrying placards that read “My dress, my choice” while others donned mini-skirts, the same attire the unidentified woman wore when she was attacked. Some men wore dresses to show their support. Others joined the march to rally against the protests, chanting “don’t be naked” and “wear clothes.”
This is not the first time a woman has been undressed for purported indecent dressing in the East African nation, which is a majority Christian. Such incidents sporadically happen in other major cities, including Nakuru and Mombasa. In the footage posted on YouTube and shown on local television, the woman is confronted by her attackers at a bus stop. She looks terrified as she is pushed and shoved by a group of men, who eventually strip her naked. In the background, attackers yell “Toa” — Swahili for “take it off!” as they tug at her clothes.
“It’s so sad that these men who strip women are the same same men who … will go out in the night looking at women who are dressed to kill and they drool over them,” said Brenda Otieno, who supported the protests in Nairobi. While some applauded the protests, others said they are a distraction from the main issues. “Kenyans are actually not concerned about clothes … this is just a media created frenzy trying to redirect the nation’s attention away from hard questions like poverty and poor education system,” Edu Gezuka posted on social media.
After the videotaped incident, other instances of women getting undressed have been reported including in Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city. The issue in not limited to Kenya. Over the years, such incidents have occurred in other African nations, including Malawi and Zimbabwe. Kenyan authorities have said they are investigating the latest incident.