A woman wearing a miniskirt takes part in a protest against the idea that provocatively dressed women are to blame for sexual assaults, in Jakarta September 18, 2011.
A woman wearing a miniskirt takes part in a protest against the idea that provocatively dressed women are to blame for sexual assaults, in Jakarta September 18, 2011.

Miniskirts could be banned in Uganda, in a move that critics claim will create an "apartheid system" in which women are treated as second-class citizens.

As part of the anti-pornography bill, a range films and TV programmes would be banned, and internet use monitored by government officials, reports the Guardian.

The reforms would mean that performances by singers like Beyonce and Madonna could not be broadcast, and threaten a return to policies of the Idi Amin era in the 1970s, with the dictator banning miniskirts when he was in power in the east African country.

A special Twitter hash tag #SaveMiniSkirt, has been created by campaigners defending the right of women to wear skirts with hems above the knee.

Simon Lokodo, Uganda's ethics and integrity minister, said: "It's outlawing any indecent dressing including miniskirts."

"Any attire which exposes intimate parts of the human body, especially areas that are of erotic function, are outlawed. Anything above the knee is outlawed. If a woman wears a miniskirt, we will arrest her."

Lokodo, a former Catholic priest, suggested that victims of sexual violence are responsible for attacks if they wear miniskirts. "One can wear what one wants, but please do not be provocative," he said. "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. He is a criminal but he was also provoked and enticed."

Asked if men would be banned from wearing shorts, the minister replied: "Men are normally not the object of attraction; they are the ones who are provoked. They can go bare-chested on the beach, but would you allow your daughter to go bare-chested?"

The anti-pornography bill states that there has been an "increase in pornographic materials in the Ugandan mass media and nude dancing in the entertainment world". It proposes that anyone found guilty of abetting pornography faces a 10m shillings (£2,515) fine or a maximum of 10 years in jail, or both.

Lokodo added. "We are saying anything that exposes private parts of the human body is pornography and anything obscene will be outlawed. Television should not broadcast a sexy person. Certain intimate parts of the body cannot be opened except for a spouse in a private place."

"A lot of photos, television, films will be outlawed. Even on the internet, we're going to put a monitoring system so we know who has watched which website and we know who has watched pornographic material."

He expressed his confidence that the bill would be passed, however, the Uganda media have reported objections to the bill at committee stage, with MPs arguing that the proposed law could infringe on civil liberties and result in traditional cultural practices being outlawed.

Sam Akaki, international envoy of Uganda's opposition Forum for Democratic Change, said: "This law will create an apartheid system by stealth. Whereas the former apartheid system in South Africa discriminated [against] people on the basis or race, this one will discriminate people on the basis of gender. Any law that discriminates people in any way is a bad law.

"If Lokodo or anyone in Uganda is serious about fighting immorality, they should fight corruption."

The Ugandan parliament is soon to vote on an anti-homosexuality bill, dubbed the "kill the gays" bill by critics, after an early version proposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts, and Lokodo recently banned 38 NGOs for 'spreading homosexuality.'

Hackers Anonymous have launched cyber-attacks on officials and the Ugandan government over its anti-homosexuality policies.