25 Dec 2012

Swazi ban on minskirts and short tops

3:01 pm on 25 December 2012

Police in Swaziland have banned women from wearing miniskirts or tops that reveal their midriffs, saying they provoke rape.

The BBC reports offenders face a prison term of six months under the ban, which invokes a colonial criminal law dating back to 1889.

A police spokeswoman said women wearing revealing clothing were responsible for assaults or rapes committed against them.

Wendy Hleta said the 1889 law had not been enforced recently, but police wanted to alert women about its existence after receiving complaints from men in Manzini, where a march against rape was recently blocked.

In 2000, the government introduced a law requiring school girls aged 10 years old and above to wear knee-length skirts to curb promiscuity as part of attempts to halt the spread of Aids.

However, the BBC reports the law does not apply to traditional costumes.

Women who wear "skimpy clothes" also draw unnecessary attention to themselves, Ms Hleta said.

"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," Ms Hleta is quoted as saying.

The kingdom has a population of more than 1.2 million and one of the highest HIV/Aids rates in the world.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, who has 13 wives.