#savetheminiskirt: "If A Woman Wears A Miniskirt, We Will Arrest Her" Featured

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Members of the Twittersphere may have seen #savetheminiskirt trending and attributed it to an attempt to preserve some fleeting fashion fad. However, the implications of this trio of words are much more serious. They refer to the Ugandan “Anti-Pornography Bill” currently hanging in the balance, which, alongside banning certain T.V shows and films, will also ban women’s right to choose what they wear.

The Guardian published the statements of Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister:

"Anything above the knee is outlawed. If a woman wears a miniskirt, we will arrest her. One can wear what one wants, but please do not be provocative. We know people who are indecently dressed: they do it provocatively and sometimes they are attacked. An onlooker is moved to attack her and we want to avoid those areas.”

The irony of these assertions is overwhelming: one may wear what one wants, but one will be thrown into jail if one does. What I think is most striking and destructive however, is the causal relationship the minister presents between the way a woman dresses and her liability to assault. It seems to me another instance of making women apologise for their sexuality and echoes the ignorant phrase, ‘she was asking for it’, which is batted carelessly around too many societies. This ridiculous notion is nothing new, but this piece of legislation seems to legitimise the damaging ideology.

What I’m talking about is this: earlier this year, in New Delhi, after a young woman was gang raped and murdered, lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma said he had never heard of a ‘respected’ lady being raped in India.

Moreover, Coronation Street’s very own Bill Roache was recently at the centre of scandal, due to his claim that victims of sexual abuse were liable for their mistreatment because of their actions in past life. He claimed in an interview, "if you accept that you are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that pure love, these things won’t happen to you.” It seems to me Roache failed to take his own advice. These statements are anything other than loving and his flimsy spiritual beliefs in no way sanction his senseless comments.

This type of attitude draws attention away from the serious issues of rape and sexual assualt, causing female victims to apologise rather than be supported as they should be. Sexual assault should be viewed for what it is, a crime; whether or not a woman happened to have her legs exposed is irrelevant. If an instance of rape is blamed on a mini-skirt we should lament the weak mentality of the perpetrator, not the fashion choices of the individual. To ban miniskirts on the basis of what Lokodo asserts seems to legitimise the ridiculous logic that the victim, not the attacker, is responsible for the crime and, ultimately, is a huge step backwards in terms of women’s rights.

Jacqueline Agate

I'm an English Literature and Language student at the University of Leeds, aspring to be a journalist. I also write for Leeds Student newspaper and Lippy: No Gloss magazine. Aside from writing, I love cooking, films and losing myself in a good book!

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