• Wed, Dec 26 2012

Swaziland Bans ‘Rape-Provoking’ Mini-Skirts, Low-Rise Jeans & Tight Clothing

Mswati III, King of Swaziland and guest at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Mswati III, King of Swaziland and guest at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

2012 was a really mixed year for women’s rights, with some major triumphs (birth control coverage! advances in HPV vaccinations! more women are learning about and using IUDs!)… along with some deeply terrifying setbacks (pretty much every time a conservative opened his mouth on the subject of rape, we saw stars).

Sadly, here’s one more for the bad pile.

This week, a police spokesman in Swaziland has announced that the very conservative kingdom plans to enforce an 1889 law (never a good sign for women’s rights!) banning mini-skirts and other tight clothes because it 1) invites rape and 2) makes rape easier (no woman in history has ever been raped in a pantsuit, apparently).

Swaziland, in case you’d like an idea of its progressivism, is Sub-Saharan Africa’s one and only absolute monarchy, complete with a king that leads a “flamboyant lifestyle” with his thirteen wives, while the rest of the country deals with AIDS, tuberculosis and assorted other terrors.

Says police spokeswoman Wendy Hleta:

We do not encourage that women should be harmed, but at the same time people should note acceptable conduct of behaviour,” Ms Hleta is quoted by the privately owned Times of Swaziland newspaper as saying.

 

“The act of the rapist is made easy because it would be easy to remove the half-cloth worn by the women,” she said.

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.

 

Well. At least they allow lady cops…?

Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world (25.8% of all adults, per Wikipedia) and also the fourth-lowest life expectancy. This ban is seen to doubly combat transmission of the virus as well as sexual assaults (another of the nation’s nightmarish realities).

As for a rape-inviting mini-skirt wearer’s punishment, consequences range from a $10 fine to a jail sentence of up to a year.

(BBC, photo via Wenn)

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