Kenyan women protest at ‘trouser police’

BBC, Feb. 3, 2003

Women in Kenya have held a demonstration in the western town of Eldoret.

They want the government to take strong action to protect them after a group of young men started assaulting women wearing trousers, stripping them naked.

Some 23 men were released on bail after being charged with assault and behaviour likely to breach the peace.

One of the affected women, Rachel Muzone Nganga, told the BBC Focus on Africa programme that women in Eldoret were scared to go outside.

“I felt so bad, I felt so humiliated,” she said.

Nevertheless, she says that she will continue to wear trousers.

“It is my right,” she said.

She said the men were members of the controversial Mungiki religious sect.

They say they want to uphold the traditional values of the Kikuyu ethnic group, and support female circumcision.


Vice President Michael Wamalwa has vehemently denied reports that he had ordered all women to stop wearing trousers.

A rumour to this effect had been circulating in Eldoret and had been another explanation for the assaults.

The men stationed themselves in different parts of town and waylaid unsuspecting women walking through the streets.

According to an eye witness, one woman was ambushed as she made her way into a supermarket, while another narrowly escaped after her attacker fell into a ditch and broke his leg.

The attacks, which begun on Friday night, forced many women to remain indoors while those going into town wore dresses or skirts.

The BBC’s Wanyana Chebusiri says that last year, there were two such incidents of attacks on women wearing trousers.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday February 4, 2003.
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