Are women in miniskirts asking for rape?

via Are women in miniskirts asking for rape? – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 10, 2014

THIS is a controversial question that is constantly raised when women are jeered, taunted or sometimes stripped naked for wearing miniskirts or short dresses.


Unfortunately, some women are also part of this group of people that think that wearing miniskirts sends wrong messages to men and argue that that has contributed to a surge in rape cases.

But the truth is that rape has nothing to do with miniskirts worn by women.

It is a power game where men want to dictate what women should do, sometimes hiding behind culture to suit their arguments, and yet this is a constitutional right for every Zimbabwean to express themselves in any way whatsoever.

What was so sexy in a toothless 80-year-old woman who was raped as she walked down a path from a beer drink at some village? And what was so sexy about the rape of a toddler that still wore diapers?

The world is full of contradictions.

People consider that women dressed in a “provocative ways” are “asking for it”, but some of these people have been to some nude beaches where no rape cases have been reported.

Rape is no doubt a reflection of the barbaric violence by a screwed-up mentality of a rapist.

“People who think that revealing clothing leads to rape do not realise the psychological process of rapists. They’re interested in the body underneath, not the clothes the girl or woman is wearing,” says Teererai Tatenda Rugare from Mufakose in a telephone interview.

Last Saturday, scores of women dressed in miniskirts and tight-fitting clothes staged a peaceful protest march in Harare against the harassment women are subjected to by touts.

The miniskirt march is one of a handful of such events that have taken place in Harare since independence, targeted at sending a strong warning to the male public and in particular touts, to desist from hurling vulgar words at women going about their day-to-day business in the central business district.

These women and girls have been embarrassed by these touts claiming to be upholding Zimbabwe’s culture.

But rape in Africa goes beyond the way a woman is dressed. Ask those in the war-torn countries such as Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, the Congo, Sudan, Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, South Africa and even Zimbabwe, where warring parties have raped women over decades.

“Sexual abuse, harassment and rape happen everywhere, regardless of culture, faith, and whether a woman is wearing a short skirt or covered from head to foot. It is no longer a question of whether a woman is asking for it if she is attacked when wearing a short skirt; the question needs to be directed to the men who are perpetrators.

“It’s no longer an issue of should women dress appropriately, but looking at why men are committing such criminal activities. These men try to justify their attack on women in miniskirts saying they are indecently dressed hence exposing themselves to ridicule.

“For example, look at what was worn by our ancestors, the Bushmen and traditional women in Namibia, who wear skimpy cloths and yet these women are not viewed as sex symbols or objects of entertainment.

“Some people defend their assertions saying that it is the Western influence on African women but from what I can see, modern women are more covered than what our ancestors were in the olden days,” says Dorcas Bakasa-Roll, a Zimbabwean who lives in Norway.

Watson Takaedza from Tynwald North in Westgate, Harare, said there is a general perception that there are places where a woman can wear certain clothes that are appropriately designed for such places.

“For example a woman cannot wear church regalia to a bar and she cannot also wear party wear to church. Miniskirts are generally associated with loose women and places of entertainment. . .

“A woman wearing a miniskirt in a bar or place of entertainment will not attract jeers or whistles or nasty comments . . . but may instead attract many suitors and drinking partners. . . Such clothes give wrong attention at churches with jeers coming from women, men and pastors . . . women should learn to dress accordingly for different occasions because the fashion police are always out there judging,” Takaedza said.

A journalist, Columbus Sebastian Mavhunga, said: “I think it has more to do with selfishness on our part as men. I choose what I put on and I do not really care what the person next to me thinks about my clothing. I therefore should not be bothered by what a woman decides to wear because it’s her choice.”

Tye Tiyanna, a UK-based Zimbabwean graphic artist, says society has somehow accepted that if a man loses sexual control, then it must be the woman’s fault.

“It is however okay for men to walk aroundwithout shirts, vests and sometimes with trousers that are dropped waist downwards at the back and so on.Women’s bodies have been sexualised too much by the media and that is a big problem. I think men taunt women because it’s a power-and-control game thing,” Tiyanna said.

Beatrice Tonhodzai, a radio personality and Aids activist, noted that: “A woman is a person, just like her male counterpart. She can reason and make choices about her life. The miniskirt march was thus long overdue because for me it was not about promoting the wearing of miniskirts, but an indication that this violation is unacceptable. Today you strip a woman and rape her for wearing a skirt, tomorrow you kill her just because you don’t like how she talks or looks . . . women are human beings who have the right to express their freedom through dressing, go out when they want to, study, aspire for top posts and positions and so on. We are intelligent enough to raise children as mothers alone and yet these men want to dictate what we wear.”

However, Nomalanga Moyo, a UK-based, Zimbabwean broadcaster argues that it is no surprise that perpetrators are often touts or those men with very little or nothing at all to do in terms of economic activity.

“Emasculated either by prevailing economic conditions or their sheer laziness to find something worthwhile to do, they seek to reassert their masculinity by harassing women. These men should realise that stripping a woman naked for whatever reason will not improve the country’s ailing economy.

“Rather, they should direct their frustrations at the ruling party politicians who are the real cause of their misery. In any case, there is nothing mini about the so-called miniskirts that one sees on Zimbabwe’s streets. What we are seeing more and more is a lack of respect for, and violence against, women and those in vulnerable situations, including children and the elderly,” she said in a Facebook interview.

Unless we start addressing the real issue here, we simply cannot make any progress. The first step to overcoming a problem is to identify it. Hence, instead of exhausting efforts on how women should dress, we should more importantly deal with issues such as attitude towards women, educating and creating awareness in men.

Felix Ng’anjo, a veteran former Radio Three presenter from Mabelreign in Harare says, what touts are talking about is in fact all about power and control of a man wanting to satisfy their sexual desires any time of day by force, whether or not with a loved one to boost their small egos.

“I personally think it is pleasing to see a woman in a miniskirt, or a low-cut top because it is refreshing. But suggesting that wearing mini leads to rape is too simplistic an argument. I am aware that some men rather than appreciating glimpses of women’s cleavages and thighs, find it nauseating because such display of womanly flesh is the reserve of the ‘the beholder’ who is either the boyfriend or husband and then only in the closets of their bedrooms.

“There is a mob psychology, where the voice of one person influences the majority and their action appears as if the majority abhorminiskirts. On the contrary, if most touts were pressed to comment why they taunt women they won’t go beyond saying: “. . . Aaah it’s not just right, or it’s just not African . . .”

Ng’anjo also noted that Saudi Arabia, considered to be one of the most conservative countries in regard to the status of women, has strict laws based on Sharia Law that require women to wear a head scarf and loose long clothes that do not reveal the shape of the woman’s body.

Yet that country has one the highest rape rates in the world.
“In Canada, which is one of the coldest countries in the world, where woman wear dark and all-covering clothing items to keep warm, a woman is raped every 17 minutes.

“In the simple argument I have posed of these two different countries, where one country because of its patriarchal views decides that women wear loose long clothing not to reveal the shape of their bodies and the other, because of harsh weather conditions women have to simply cover head to toe, women are still raped on a grand scale,” says Ng’anjo, who is also a social worker based in the UK.

Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the topic generated a lot of debate at his workplace this week but stated that his organisation is against any form of harassment or targeting of women whether it is for the clothes they wear or for the work they do.

“Because everybody is entitled to their dignity and bodily integrity, no one has the right to either directly attack or even to make women feel unsafe.”

Mafunda said women should feel safe in whatever sphere they operate in, whether public or private. This kind of harassment that women get is a manifestation of the worst types of patriarchy adding that everyone has a responsibility to break this this down.

One woman who attended the miniskirt march had this to say on Facebook: “The miniskirt march is as important as ensuring that no child is born HIV-positive. The moment we start grading the importance of women’s rights; be it expression, bodily integrity or participation we miss the big picture.”

The issue of harassment, violence, bullying, booing, undressing and hailing of insults at women is a reflection of lawlessness and the tolerance thereof in Zimbabwe, notes director of Tag A Life International (TaLI) Nyaradzo Mashayamombe.

She urged police to arrest anyone who violates the law and the undressing of women, because police are there to enforce the law.


  • comment-avatar
    Chanisa 8 years ago

    A mini skirt says seduce me if you can. It puts the timid guy face-to-face with his own inadequacy. Is it not insecurity that makes Moslem men wrap up their women as they do?

    • comment-avatar

      are you trying to tell us that because Muslim women are swathed in robes they are not raped?

      what planet do you live on?

      Rape is reported daily in Muslim countries. Somalia for example women suffer in silence because the mere act of reporting gets the woman lashed or killed by people with an attitude like yours.

      Please do not make excuses for monsters who prey on women and children Nobody should justify rape. I hope to God YOUR wife or child never gets violated.

      • comment-avatar
        Chanisa 8 years ago

        No Lucy. That isn’t what I am saying. People that attack mini-skirted women are no different to muslim men that cover up their women. As simple as that.

    • comment-avatar
      tfara 8 years ago

      you hit the nail on the head so even with woman all wrapped up there are still rapes,- as such is the nature of man, and till such time as society ostracizes and punishes the men who perpetuate these acts and it is seen as totally ‘uncool’ by our youth, it will carry on for ever.

  • comment-avatar

    What an irresponsible question to ask.

    Of all the rape cases that have occured in Zimbabwe to date 5000 odd case- tell me how many of those are grown women who at the time of rape were wearing miniskirts?

    How many of those cases were children in diapers?

  • comment-avatar

    What an irresponsible question to ask.

    Of all the rape cases that have occured in Zimbabwe to date 5000 odd case- tell me how many of those are grown women who at the time of rape were wearing miniskirts?

    How many of those cases were children in diapers AND litle girl clothes and uniforms? I am sure children outnumbered adult women victims. If you can tell me that these children were wearing mini skirts over their diapers and school uniforms then I think we can start discussing the possibility of rape being a direct result of the mini skirt. Until then please reframe your question.


    women do not utter the words ‘please rape me’verbally or non-verbally

    babies do not ask to be raped
    children do not ask for rape.
    neither do old women.


  • comment-avatar

    These tout who claim they are protecting Zimbabwean culture are a joke. In Zimbabwe prior to 1890, all men and women wore an animal skin in the front to protect their genitalia. The women were topless. Clothes that we have now were introduced by the white people. So get over yourselves, men, and learn to control your base instincts.

  • comment-avatar

    all the pictures existing of mbuya nehanda shows her in a mini skirt.lobengula, in a rich man’s attire, was hardly dressed. one wonders how a poor man dressed. in the 60s, in bikita, half the people, men and women, were clad in meagre clothing, zvitewhe, only covering the vitals. most girls did not cover their boobs. tell me– what is zimbabwean culture in terms of dress. a mini skirt conforms to zimbabwean culture. in fact a thong to cover the vitals would be very cultural. my mother’s tutu, chichakati, was 10 cm , if not more, above the knee. now dont you denigrate my mother. the rest is colonial mentality.

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    In Zimbabwe, like in many other countries, men are empowered by a male chauvinist sub-culture that allow them to think that women are on this earth to serve and work. In this country the women have to work, grow children, save money ,live the way they can looking at those idiot husbands going to spoil the whole salary with other women and drinking beer with fellow idiots.
    No wonder that in their brains to rape a human being is considered as another way to get what they want in that very moment. Like children.

  • comment-avatar
    Former Zimbo 8 years ago

    “Ask woman in war-torn countries such as……. Botswana”, maybe the author should do a “tiny” bit of research, even the smallest amount, will enlighten the author to the fact that Botswana is not a war-torn country, nor has it ever been. Botswana is the most peaceful country in Africa and one of the most peaceful in the world. Where the author got this information from, one can only guess….. Aha, i have figured it out, from the fairies that are flying around in his head…..!!! Really, do a bit of research before you write an article, basic journalism training.

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    Godfrey 8 years ago

    Rapists must be arrested and castrated.Period.

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    Bruce 8 years ago

    Rape is wrong. There are many opinions that may be advanced to try to explain it. Its wrong and bad and must be refused and restisted at all cost. Whether the women dresses in a seducing way, there is a point she must answer before her gOD, raping does not correct it.

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    Nkosinathi mkwananzi 8 years ago

    Why are u referencing to 2 things which are they a research which have bn conducted which relates mini skirts to rape. Please publish the results. Miniskirts can be related to dress moral code. Why do u want to subject everyone to your opinion. The Constitution suspends individual rights against majority rights and it still remains democracy. If a woman wants to wear a miniskirt no problem lf they live in a vacuum.where does culture come from. How do we quantify culture? An individual does not hv to be anti social. A person is a person amoung persons not amoung dogs. If the detects of the community u a living in are such dat they have not developed to accept miniskirts why should one choose to be deviant. Our social norms dd not accept women wearing trousers ealier but 2day women wear trousers freely. Some families are today sympathetic to transgender individuals which was a taboo. Do not insult people intelligence. U becone the same detector u so much prophesy to be anti.
    Do not judge pple. Its the social culture and fibre within them which does not embrace that for now.

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    Chanisa 8 years ago

    Mini skirts are targeted at men as muscles and money are for women to snare. Too much mini skirt is profane; and a little bit here and there is ok. Most rape victims are acquainted to their assailants, with dress code playing no role at all. However, the miniskirt does provoke testosterone animalism in many men, and most of us can keep it under control. Women have liked getting men hot under the collar for millions of years and men’s built-in recourse mechanism has been curtailed by civilization since Joan of Ark. These are basic facts. They don’t condone rape. The range from blatant exhibitionism under the protection of civilization to common decency is there for free people to take. I like to see an aphrodisiac mini skirt occasionally, and only occasionally. There is much else to do away from sexual imagery on the high street.

  • comment-avatar
    Michaela Funder 7 years ago

    How many woman being raped daily in India ? How many of them wearing mini skirts ? NONE. So where is the connection between shirt skirts and rape ?
    The VP argument ” what counts are the morals not the length of the skirt” hits the nail.