When it comes to personal style, it’s okay to disagree. Some of us may own a closet of crop tops, and some may go for a more modest look — a preference based on beliefs or aesthetics. But, no matter where your hemlines fall, we can agree that no woman should ever be shamed — much less harassed nor assaulted — for the sartorial choices she makes. And, it’s for this very reason that about 500 people came to Uhuru Park in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi earlier today.
According to Al Jazeera, a Kenyan woman was attacked at a bus stop earlier this month for reasons ostensibly having to do with her outfit. In a video, you see a large crowd of men yelling and tugging at the woman’s clothes. Clearly outnumbered and at the mercy of her attackers, she’s left completely nude on the street. The men disagreed with the length of her skirt.
Sadly, as the publication Hapa Kenya points out, the event that took place at the bus stop is hardly a fluke. It is one of many reports of sexual assaults that have occurred throughout Kenya and neighboring nations, such as Nigeria, Egypt, and Zimbabwe. And, rightfully, when the upsetting video was later released, it caused an uproar, eventually leading to the crowd that formed today in the Kenyan city. The crowd marched holding signs and chanted its#MyDressMyChoice mantra.
Adorned with purple ribbons — and each wearing her hemline of choice — the women who participated in the protest today were there to demand their freedom and respect. “At the end of the day, there is no women who is indecent,” said protester Esther Passaris to the crowd, making a point that shaming someone for her or his clothing is appalling no matter the gender. “And, who decides what is indecent or not?”
At the most base level, this is about bodily autonomy. We shouldn’t even have to say this but women (and men) have the right to wear whatever they want, wherever they want, without fear of harassment or assault, and #MyDressMyChoice is a powerful push back from the women of Kenya. Check out the hashtag on Twitter to read more about it in their words.