Following what they described as increase in irresponsible dressing among girls in the city, Chiefs in Blantyre, Malawi are calling on government to ban wearing of mini-skirts in schools to reduce cases of rape and defilement among female pupils.
They made this position known last Tuesday at the Malawi Education Sector Improvement Programme (MISEP) sensitization meeting at Bandawe School in Blantyre. Traditional Authority (TA) Machinjiri said many of the young girls are subjected to sexual abuse mainly because of their dressing.
“How do you expect men to resist when girls have dressed in a seducing manner, we need to bring back good morals in schools. During our time, girls wore skirts beyond their knees as such, rape cases were very rare.
“While we advocate for promotion of girls education and that we join hands in retaining them in school, we must also seriously consider the dressing code,” said Machinjiri.
The Chief said though freedom of dressing is a fundamental right in the constitution, there is need to put control measures to bring sanity.
Senior Chief Kapeni said apart from rape cases, early pregnancies as well as early marriages among girls in schools are also as a result of poor dressing.
“I vehemently support that dressing that exposes body parts of a girl child should be banned. Let’s not allow foreign culture kill the future of our girls. The ministry of education must take this issue seriously,” he said.
The chief added, “Those who formulated the constitution are people and they can as well amend our constitution on dressing in schools so that there is discipline and sanity while also allow girls complete their education.”
District Education Manager (DEM) for Blantyre responsible for Primary Education, Paul Chiphanda acknowledged irresponsible dressing as a major threat to girls in schools.
Chiphanda said men take advantage of girls’ seductive dressing to exploit them.
“What the chiefs are saying is very genuine and there has to be a mechanism to control this. We have tried to sensitize schools on this but still the constitution has more power if we need to see a change,” said Chiphanda.
Jeremiah Kankuza one of the MESIP project managers in the Ministry of education said the Ministry will need to evaluate the chief’s concerns and determine the way forward.