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Cote d`Ivoire: Parliament Adopts Bill on Marriage
Nord-Sud Quotidien
Monday, December 3, 2012

Report by Adelaide Konin: “ Women Allowed to Wear Trousers” -- first paragraph in italics is introduction by Nord-Sud Quotidien

Yesterday, Members of Parliament adopted a bill on marriage, which will allow the two spouses to jointly designate the head of the family. However, this bill will have to be adopted in the plenary session in the next few days.

Members of the commission in charge of General and Institutional Affairs made their decision yesterday during the ordinary session of the National Assembly. The husband is no longer the absolute master of the family. The wife can also “put on trousers.” Henceforth, the spouses will jointly decide on who is going to be the head of the family.

The bill abrogating article 53, and modifying articles 58, 59, 60, and 67 of Law number 64-375 of 07 October 1964 on marriage, as modified by Law number 83-800 of 02 August 1983, has been adopted by the Commission in charge of General and Institutional Affairs. Out of the 33 MPs present at the National Assembly, 18 voted for, 14 against, while there was one abstention.

The parliamentarians who voted against argued that the law did not take into account cultural, social and religious values of the African society. Tabled by the president of the Republic and defended by Matto Cisse, minister delegate at the Prime Minister`s Office, in charge of justice and keeper of the seal, the bill also allows the woman to exercise any job of her choice, unless legally proven that the exercise of that job runs contrary to the interest of the family.

The same law stipulates that if one of the spouses does not fulfill their obligations, the other spouse can obtain recourse from a residing judge to proportionately provide for the needs of the household, part of the spouse`s salary or the income.

The law modifying article 2 of ordinance number 2011-258 of 28 September 2011, on birth and death registry, has also been adopted within the commission. Declarations are accepted within a period of 24 months, from the enforcement date of this law, in accordance with laws and regulations on civil registry in force. According to Matto Cisse, this will enable people who have not been able to make their declaration on time to do so.

(Description of Source: Abidjan Nord-Sud Quotidien in French -- Privately owned daily supportive of House Speaker Guillaume Soro)

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

When Women Did Not Eat Eggs, Wear Trousers
by Charles Onyango-Obbo
March 14, 2011

Nairobi, Mar 14, 2011 (The East African/All Africa Global Media) -- To mark International Women`s Day last week, East African newspapers had stories about “women of steel,” “top most influential” women, “women achievers,” and other stories like that.

I am drawn to an earlier period when the only things women could be was pioneers; and the first this or first that. In parts of Uganda, for example, even as late as the early 1970s women were forbidden to eat chicken and eggs.

So when we were kids we used to hear stories, told with horror, about the first woman to eat eggs. To this day, in many parts of Africa, women are still not allowed to ride bicycles. It is considered an abomination and a subversion of female virtue.

Now, if in the 1950s and 60s you had a home where the girls ate eggs and also rode bicycles, only a mad young man would seek a wife from there. One of Africa`s pioneer feminists and “communist” was Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, a fierce freedom fighter.

Hers is a most fascinating story. She became bogeywoman of the political and cultural establishment. While she inspired many young women, she mortified others. It was the worst insult to some young girls to be told they were like, or would become like, Funmilayo.

Funmilayo also became the first Nigerian woman to do the “unthinkable” - to drive a car and ride a bicycle. This was before the Second World War. She endured countless police beatings, and arrests. Not surprisingly, from her heroic womb came forth one of the most rebellious, brave, exciting, and radical musicians and men to walk this fair Earth; Fela Ransome-Kuti.

Think for a moment of Uganda`s Sarah Nyendwoha Ntiro, who was the first woman in East and Central Africa to graduate from university. Women like Ntiro confronted very different prejudices than the ones they face today.

Today if a woman shows up with her degree to ask for work, the male manager does not ask her, “What do you want here?” In 2006 Liberia`s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became the first woman to be democratically elected president in Africa.

Just less than 10 years earlier there had not been a female who had run for president in Africa. In 1997, minister for Water Charity Ngilu became the first woman to run for president in a multiparty election in Kenya -- and Africa as well.

Today, it seems the normal thing that a professional woman should wear a trouser suit to work. Well, until the late 1960s most women in East Africa wearing trousers were in foreign magazines.

Strange, though, that the mini -- which shows more than the bishop would approve of -- was more tolerated, than trousers. In Uganda, shortly after military dictator Idi Amin took power in a coup in 1971 he banned wigs, minis, along with political parties and Parliament. Jane Maviri, a young woman of 17, defied the dictator.

She “banged” on her mini and took to the streets. She was arrested. On July 5, 1972 she was found guilty of being “idle and disorderly.” Maviri was a hero, but no one remembers her. Hopefully, on a future International Women`s Day, we shall fully acknowledge the debt we owe to women like Maviri and Funmilayo.

They stood up to be counted in a very lonely and dangerous period for activists.

Charles Onyango-Obbo is Nation Media Group`s executive editor for Africa & Digital Media.

© 2011 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved

Women in Malawi protest attacks over skirts, pants
Raphael Tenthani The Associated Press
Charleston Gazette
January 22, 2012

Malawian women protested Friday to demand an end to attacks for not wearing dresses.

BLANTYRE, Malawi - It`s been 18 years since the late dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda`s “indecency in dress” laws were repealed in Malawi, but mobs of men and boys in the largely conservative southern African country have recently been publicly stripping women of their miniskirts and pants.

Friday, hundreds of outraged girls and women, among them prominent politicians, protested the attacks while wearing pants or miniskirts and T-shirts emblazoned with such slogans as: “Real men don`t harass women.” A recording of Bob Marley`s “No Woman, No Cry” got a loud cheer when it was played during the protest. Men also took part.

“Some of us have spent our entire life fighting for the freedom of women,” Vice President Joyce Banda told the protesters. “It`s shocking some men want to take us back to bondage.”

During Banda`s 1963-1994 dictatorship, women in Malawi were banned from wearing pants and short skirts. Banda lost power in the country`s first multiparty election in 1994 and died three years later.

“Life President” Banda led the nation to independence from Britain, only to impose an oppressive rule. Whims that reflected a puritanical streak were law. The U.S.-trained physician and former Presbyterian church elder, himself always attired in a dark suit and Homburg hat, also banned long hair on men.

“We fought for a repeal of these laws,” Ngeyi Kanyongolo, a law professor, said at Friday`s protests. “Women dressed in trousers or miniskirts is a display of the freedom of expression.”

While Banda is gone, strains of conservatism remain in the impoverished, largely rural nation. Some of the street vendors who have attacked women in recent days claimed it was un-Malawian to dress in miniskirts and pants. Some said it was a sign of loose morals or prostitution.

The attacks took on such importance, President Bingu wa Mutharika went on state television and radio on the eve of the protest to assure women they were free to wear what they want.

Other African nations, including neighboring South Africa, have seen similar attacks and harassment of women. Last year, women and men held “SlutWalks” in South Africa, joining an international campaign against the notion that a woman`s appearance can excuse attacks. “SlutWalks” originated in Toronto, Canada, where they were sparked by a police officer`s remark that women could avoid being raped by not dressing like “sluts.”

Malawi`s president ordered police to arrest anyone who attacks women wearing pants or miniskirts. Police had already made 15 arrests.

“Women who want to wear trousers should do so as you will be protected from thugs, vendors and terrorists,” the president said in a local language, Chichewa. “I will not allow anyone to wake up and go on the streets and start undressing women and girls wearing trousers because that is criminal.”

Vice President Banda has speculated the attacks were the result of economic woes in a country that is currently racked by shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

“There is so much suffering that people have decided to vent their frustrations on each other,” she told reporters.

A vendors` representative at Friday`s protest, Innocent Mussa, was booed off the stage. Mussa insisted those who were harassing women were not true vendors.

“I`m ashamed to be associated with the stripping naked of innocent women,” he said. “Those were acts of thugs because a true vendor would want to sell his wares to women, he can`t be harassing potential customers.”

Mussa blamed the harassment on unemployed young people.

©Copyright 2012

Sudanese Woman Recounts Arrest, Trial for Wearing Trousers
Al-Quds al-Arabi Online
Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lubna al-Husayn, the pants-wearing journalist, to Al-Quds al-Arabi: I Did Not Leave Sudan To Request Asylum in a European Country and my Return Hinges on the “No to Oppression of Women Initiative”

Lubna al-Husayn, the Sudanese journalist who created controversy when she rejected a flogging punishment for wearing trousers in July 2009, has declared that her return to Sudan hinges on the developments pertaining to the “no to oppression of women initiative,` a local movement that was formed to show solidarity with her in connection with wearing the trousers case. Earlier there were rumors that Al-Husayn planned to seek political asylum in a European country after she succeeded in breaking the ban preventing her from traveling abroad.

Al-Husayn is now staying in France to participate in festive functions held on the occasion of the release of a French-language book dealing with her case. She traveled to London last weekend and met with other Sudanese nationals and foreign supporters during a seminar at which she spoke about her book and the

details of her experience, which created worldwide reactions.

Concerning the circumstances of her departure from Sudan and the likely consequences of that departure to her personal safety, she said that she had been forced to leave Sudan by air disguised in an Afghan burqa to circumvent the ban on her free travel. She refused, however, to reveal the full details of her escape. In a defiant tone and a new criticism of the contradictions, as she saw them, of Sudanese law, she said: Let them (Sudanese security) find that out for themselves instead of being preoccupied with women`s pants and bodies.

She asserted that the aim of her leaving Sudan was not to ask for asylum abroad but to participate in activities intended to tell the world about the hardships that Sudanese women face under Article 152 of the Sudanese Penal Code. Al-Husayn stood trial under this article and other equally bad provisions. She pointed out that she has had and still has opportunities to obtain residence in a European country. However, she places the interests of all Sudanese women before her own interest.

Lubna al-Husayn had earlier rejected a presidential pardon and other scenarios to avoid the flogging punishment which consisted of 40 lashes with the whip after being convicted of a perpetrating “an immoral act” under Article 152 for wearing pants. The penalty was subsequently commuted to one month`s imprisonment or paying a fine of $200.Al-Husayn chose imprisonment amid broad international controversy. However, the president of the Sudanese Journalists Association hastened to pay the fine and release her from jail. Al-Husayn is appealing her case and has said that she will seek recourse at the Sudanese Constitutional Court to challenge the constitutionality of the legal article by which she was tried and convicted if the Appeals Court endorses the verdict passed by the Court of First Instance. She added that she would appeal to the African Court if necessary.

Al-Husayn`s unexpected departure from Sudan raised the possibility that she might ask for asylum elsewhere, especially as she had earlier stated that she had received death threats and had suffered various harassments because of her refusal to appease the regime. She assured Al-Quds al-Arabi, however, that her return to Sudan is possible after the conclusion of several tours she will make to a number of Arab and European countries.

She added that a final decision regarding her return will depend on her assessment of what course of action is more useful to the cause of highlighting the collective hardship that Sudanese women suffer. She also said that she will declare her intention to return to her country weeks in advance and pointed out that she has nothing to fear and that it is the Sudanese regime that should bear the consequences of its stands that contravene international standards and law.

She said, however, that the time for her return has not come yet. On 15 December she is scheduled to attend a function marking the publication of her book “40 Lashes for Wearing Trousers.”The earlier date of 23 November was postponed to give her an opportunity to meet with French Prime Minister (title as published, Foreign Minister) Bernard Kouchner and former President Jacques Chirac.

Al-Husayn said that she is happy at the release of her book, which will again force the Sudanese Government to respond to its contents, noting that any response that this government makes will increase the book`s circulation while if it ignores it, this will mean that it approves of its contents. The book was published in French, a language that Al-Husayn does not speak. She wrote it in Arabic and the publishing house translated it. Al-Husayn is planning several other translations into other languages including English and Arabic.

At a seminar in London last Sunday Al-Husayn reiterated her objections to the way in which the Sudanese regime`s courts operate. She described them as unconstitutional and talked at length about their shortcomings and their violations of human rights. She again denounced the Sudanese Penal Code, noting that it includes articles that are as dangerous as Article 152 like Article 154, which subjects women and men who do not even know each other to the risk of being arrested on prostitution charges if they are having a private gathering. She recounted tragic examples of honorable women and men who were victimized in this way.

Al-Husayn spoke about the deplorable human rights conditions under which Sudanese men and women live especially if they are poor and lack strong social support to protect them from the harsh laws and the unfair ways in which they are enforced. In a denunciatory tone she exclaimed: If this is what happens in the heart of Khartoum, how can we fail to believe the horrific crimes that occur in Darfur?

Lubna al-Husayn recounted the full story of her arraignment and trial to an audience of more than 100 people, who listened attentively for several hours although most of them had learned the story from the media over the past few months. Al-Husayn said that the thing that offended her most was not the flogging punishment, though harsh in itself, but the name of the legal article in question, which is called “indecent acts,” which in the public`s mind can only mean prostitution. It does not occur to many people that wearing a pair of pants can be viewed as such an act. She pointed out that because of this penal article`s unfair application, some Sudanese families suffered tragedies, noting that its interpretation is often left to uneducated troops.

At the start of the seminar Dr Salah Bandar, director of the “Citizen`s Institution,” presented a symbolic gift to Lubna al-Husayn consisting of a book about the conditions of African women by Fatimah Babakr Mahmud. In a speech he made on the occasion, he urged that Al-Husayn`s case be used to improve the conditions under which Sudanese and African women live. He pointed out that the case has achieved significant success because it meets certain standards of Western culture, which always looks for symbols that represent various causes.

Dr Bandar expressed reservations about this culture that ignores numerous causes in its constant search for symbols, as he put it. He maintained that Al-Husayn`s case, despite its importance, is merelya symbol among many similar and perhaps more serious cases.

(Description of Source: London Al-Quds al-Arabi Online in Arabic -- Website of London-based independent Arab nationalist daily with strong anti-US bias. URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Kenyan women in clash-hit Naivasha town harassed by gang for wearing trousers
The Standard
Saturday, February 2, 2008

Kenyan women in clash-hit Naivasha town harassed by gang for wearing trousers

Text of report by Antony Gitonga entitled “Gang `orders` women to stop wearing trousers” published by Kenyan privately-owned daily newspaper The Standard website on 2 February

A gang of youths in Naivasha is harassing women wearing trousers. The gang has vowed to ensure women wear skirts and dresses only.

At the Naivasha bus terminus, women spotted wearing trousers were flushed out of matatus (public commuter vehicles) and ordered to “dress properly”.

“African women are not supposed to wear trousers and we want to ensure it stays that way in Naivasha,” said one youth who did not want to be named.

A lady who fell victim to the marauding thugs narrated how fellow women rescued her when she walked into a trap laid by the thugs.

“I had just alighted from a matatu, having kept off the town for the past week, only to be confronted by a group of men yelling that I remove my trousers,” said Miriam Wairimu, a student at a local computer college.

“I ran for my life as the gang pursued me until some women rescued me. I was then given a skirt to wear inside a tailor`s shop,” said Wairimu.

She termed the action an affront on women`s dignity.

Police, who appear overwhelmed by rising incidents of violence, were nowhere as the gang continued to humiliate women.

“It is inconceivable that in this era and age, some crude people can decide what women should wear. These are criminals who should be arrested and prosecuted,” said Jane Mbugua, a local businesswoman.

The town was hit by a wave of violence four days ago that left more than 40 people dead. Another 8,000 people were displaced and are camping at the local prison and police stations.

Naivasha police boss, Mr Willy Lugusa, was not immediately available for comment.

(It is to be noted that Mungiki, an extortionist quasi-religious vigilante ethnic Kikuyu gang, suspected to be involved in the Naivasha violence champions the circumcision of women and forbids its women membership from adopting “Western” habits)

(Description of Source: Nairobi The Standard (Internet Version-WWW) in English -- independent newspaper with second largest circulation in Kenya. URL is

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Muslim women wearing the trousers
By Dr Terry Lacey*
Al-Bawaba News
November 05, 2009

An Islamic sharia policeman gives advice to Acehnese girls during a street inspection in Banda Aceh, December 1, 2009. Women was banned from wearing tight trousers in parts of an Indonesian province that practices strict Islamic law, and offenders could see their attire cut up. Aceh is the only province in predominantly Muslim Indonesia to use Islamic Sharia for its legal code. REUTERS/Beawiharta

The West Aceh Regent Ramli M.S, based in Meulaboh, has issued a regulation that women found wearing tight trousers such as jeans will have them cut by sharia police and forced to wear loose-fitting attire as of January 1st 2010. (The Jakarta Post 28.10.09). He will also attempt to enforce that vendors cannot sell jeans or slacks.

Ladies can, of course, can still wear jeans and slacks in other regencies or provinces, which could necessitate a ring of religious police road-blocks around the regency, with changing rooms at twenty-four hour border gates.

It is not clear if these restrictions apply to persons of uncertain gender who traditionally play a significant role in Aceh social life, since they are really men who look like ladies. This is a difficult theological point and there may be no underlying grounds for restricting the tightness of their jeans, even if they look quite immoral, or at least very happy about it.

But since their customers are usually men, this should not involve any women, so no female immorality is involved, although the religious police may sometimes have to look into it.

The Regent has also issued a regulation prohibiting government agencies from serving members of the public wearing “un-Islamic” clothing such as tight jeans and slacks when visiting government offices.

This could be unconstitutional since it is unlikely that any official has the right to withdraw Indonesian central government services from its citizens on such grounds. However, Ramli M.S is a practical man and has reportedly set up a contract to produce 7,000 long skirts, which he will provide free to those stripped of their trousers.

Could it be that a degree of male resentment has emerged in a country where increasingly the women wear the trousers?

And who is to make sure the religious police will carry out their duties professionally as regards the tight jeans? First of all with changing fashions, Indonesian ladies, even in Meulaboh, are very fashion-conscious and like to follow international trends.

So senior religious police should be sent to Paris to see the catwalks, whilst of course refraining from any sinful thoughts or deeds, in order to see how tight is tight these days. After all it is the modern and appropriate contextualization of what is in the Holy Koran, and an educated understanding of hadiths (religious sayings) that should lead to an appropriate interpretation of what is needed, since Islam only requires modesty.

Modern, liberal Islamic scholars would understand this to mean comparatively modest compared to prevailing fashions.

So if the prevailing fashion in Jakarta and Medan shopping malls would be bare midriffs, and a glimpse of a thong leading to goodness-knows-where, then jeans and a t-shirt will look more modest, and are of course routinely worn in most of Indonesia, or the Gulf States, or Jordan, or Lebanon or Egypt, or come to think of it, in most Muslim countries.

Then Aceh religious police, should perhaps run a comparative study on Muslim dress and modernity, covering, or we could say uncovering, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and Syria plus a drop into Sharm El Sheik in Egypt and then that stretch of holiday resorts from Alexandria to El Alamein to see how the Egyptians and their guests from the Gulf take to the beaches.

This could be rounded off by a comparative study of tightness in casual clothing and beach-wear in the Arab Middle East heartland of the Gulf States, where mass tourism is growing, culminating in a tour of (sometimes topless) beaches in southern Turkey and a side-visit to tourist areas in the Maldives and Malaysia.

If there were time to study further afield then Muslim dress habits in the Balkans and in the Central Asian Republics would also reflect longstanding and somewhat laid-back non-Arab Muslim cultural traditions with a rather liberal view of social life and attire.

This should give the West Aceh religious police a better feel for the subject, despite the tight schedule. Or, someone could put a stop to all this nonsense and show Regent Ramli who is wearing the trousers. Otherwise ladies could risk losing their trousers all over Indonesia .

* Dr Terry Lacey is a development economist who writes from Jakarta , Indonesia , on modernization in the Muslim world, investment and trade relations with the EU and Islamic banking.

© 2009 Al-Bawaba

Sharia police give advice to women caught wearing tight pants during a street raid in Arongan Lambalek district in Indonesia`s West Aceh province May 26, 2010. West Aceh province is the only district in Indonesia which prohibits women from wearing outfits deemed `un-Islamic`. The local government has prepared 16,000 skirts to distribute to women wearing prohibited outfits. REUTERS/Junaidi Hanafiah.

Sharia police reprimand two women for wearing tight trousers in Banda Aceh December 18, 2009. The police unit, called the “Wilayatul Hisbah”, patrolled the beach to look for unmarried couples, Muslim women without headscarves or those wearing tight clothes, and people drinking alcohol or gambling. Picture taken December 18, 2009.







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