Activists protest against the latest attacks on women
Activists protest against the latest attacks on women

Malawi's street vendors' latest attacks on women have angered rights activists who have launched a campaign against their latest violent tactics.

After tensions and clashes between Malawi's streets vendors and the police escalated, a group of vendors turned their anger against women shoppers in the country's capital city of Lilongwe.

They resorted to stripping naked women who were found wearing trousers and tight or short skirts.

The vendors, who usually sell goods ranging from vegetables and fruits to clothing or electronic items on the streets pavement, began protesting after the city council started to remove their stalls.

However they soon turned on women, saying they dressed 'too indecently' which they deemed contrary to the country's culture.

Women activists have however now retaliated by launching a campaign against the streets vendors.

Called "lero nkugule, mawa undivule" which translates into "today I buy from you, tomorrow you undress me", the campaign aims at teaching the vendors to respect women regardless of their clothing.

"We want to send a clear message that we don't want to go back to the past when we did not have freedom of dressing," Seodi White an activist told IPS news.

"Like a lot of Africa, there is a culture of instilling fear in women because people know they are voiceless even though they are guaranteed equality on paper," said Faustace Chirwa, executive director of Malawi-based National Women's Lobby Group.

Malawi's President Biongu Mutharika urged the perpetrators to stop the attacks. He also insisted women are free to dress as they please.

Forty people had been arrested in connection with the incidents.

"The 40 will be charged with various offences ranging robbery, assault and infringing upon the modesty of women," national police spokesman Davie Chingwalu, said.