Women, don't wear pants in Swaziland

MBABANE, Swaziland -- Swaziland, one of Africa's most traditional and conservative nations, has urged women to wear modest clothing and know their place in society.

Prime Minister Prince Bhekimpi Dlamini, addressing Parliament Tuesday, called for the banning of see-through blouses, mini skirts and women's trousers.


He also took a swipe at Women's Liberation as the work of extremists.

'Women who have such clothing should throw them away and buy decent clothing to wear in public,' Bhekimpi said. 'Such clothing is unacceptable to the Swazi nation.

'Although Swaziland wants its women to progress in all sectors of institutional life, they must respect their place as women.'

Informed sources in Mbabane said there was deep resentment at the prime minister's remarks among young Swazi women who favor jeans rather than traditional tribal clothes.

'But nobody has come out openly to criticize the government. It's a heavy issue here,' one source said.

Under the late King Sobhuza II, who died in 1982, Swaziland cautiously adopted some facets of Western life while honoring the tribal traditions of one of Africa's oldest kingdoms.

If Swaziland introduces legislation outlawing revealing and Western clothes, it will be following the example of Malawi where a Victorian moral code inculcated by President-for-life Hastings Banda frowns on mini skirts, jeans and men with long hair.


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