War of words at miniskirt march

HARARE - Miniskirts in all styles — mod, flirty, kicky, sporty and even formal — were on full display in Harare’s streets yesterday.

Members of a pressure group, Katswe Sisterhood, staged a highly controversial march to voice their concern against attacks on women wearing shorter hemlines at minibus ranks environs.

In a march dubbed “Reclaiming our streets”, hundreds of marchers against women abuse swung the pendulum the other way when they put on miniskirts and very, very short baby doll dresses, so short that touts shrugged, but with some ratcheting up the insults.

The day started early as we headed to the march, with two of my female colleagues, reporter Wendy Muperi and photojournalist Annie Mpalume.

Given the buzz the miniskirt march had created on State radio and social media, it was an assignment any young, male journalist would welcome, right?

In Harare, usually, the legs don’t come out en masse until at least its evening, and you have to pay.

So, here was an opportunity to see Harare’s skimpiest, without having to pay an entrance fee! To be honest, I hoped I could simply enjoy the view, or gauge the reaction of touts to this highly provocative march.

The Katswe Sisterhood march started at Town House.

The march was under heavy police escort, praise God.

I was struck with some of the marchers pairing a sexy mini with platform high heels, something which most touts shouted was veering into lady-of-the-night territory.

Curiously, some of the marchers pitched up in knee-length numbers or, dare I say it, a maxi dress!

We rolled up to the Copacabana rank with my eyes peeled and Annie’s camera handy. The mass gathering of miniskirts obviously provoked a reaction from the touts.

“Hure, hure, hure (Prostitute, prostitute, prostitute),” the touts shouted.

“Hure ndimai vako (Your mother is the prostitute),” one of female marchers shot back.

The protestors, waving placards inscribed “Real men protect women”, “Ikodzero yedu kupfeka zvatoda”, “My body, not your body”, “Your lust is not my problem”, the marchers proceeded to Market Square, turned the corner into the rank and were jeered by touts.

Singing “hatidi zvekupihwa order nemasascum (we won’t take orders from fools),” the women made it clear the advances were unwanted.

The touts yelled after them, with kombi (minibus) drivers honking their horns. The men seemed to be enjoying the spectacle, while the women ignored the stream of nasty comments.

Now singing, “akatadza kutengera mai vake miniskirt, haanyare (he failed to buy his mum a miniskirt, he should be ashamed)”, the women brought traffic to a standstill.

One tout shouted: “Saka Gumbura ngaabude mujereka? (Then you must set Gumbura free from prison),” referring  to Robert Martin Gumbura, the RMG Independent End Time Message Church leader who was jailed this year for an effective 40 years on five counts of raping his congregants.

Another tout shouted, “This is nonsense.”

“Varikufurirwa nezvivarungu izvo.(They are being misled by those whites),” shouted another tout, referring to a handful of white marchers that were part of the demo.

“Mahure chete, hapana mukadzi wemunhu apa (These are all prostitutes, there is no married woman here),” another tout shouted. The comments agitated the women further, who raised the tempo of their signing.

“Taneta neAids, hatichada (We are tired of Aids, we don’t want this),” another tout chipped in.

“Its my body, not yours, shut up,” shot back one of the female protestors.

“Hwindi iwe dzora moyo (Touts should have a change of heart),” the women  broke into song.

Yesterday’s march was organised after several young women were harassed by a mob of men at various minibus ranks in the city centre.

As the marchers left the Market Square minibus rank, they were hounded by a large group of men who jeered, with some attempting to grope them, but with police maintaining order.

“Mudzoke mapurisa aenda muone (Come back when the police are gone and see what will happen),” one tout warned, ominously.

The crowd of hundreds of women continued marching slowly back towards Copacabana rank. The march was led by Talent Jumo, director of Katswe Sisterhood. Jumo was putting on a very short red skirt and wedge shoes that provoked a frenzied reaction.

As the group entered the so-called “mushikashika” near Copacabana, where  small cars pick up commuters to Parirenyatwa hospital, they provoked cheers from interested onlookers.

While the protesters were almost all women, many men turned out to watch them pass. A few joked about the march’s concept.

“Ngavafambe vakapfeka mag-string tinyatsavaona (They should rather parade in g-strings only),” one tout said.

Another shouted: “Nhasi vari paspecial offer, hapana loitering, nhasi for free (They are on special offer, they are not getting arrested for loitering, you can have sexual conference with any of these prostitutes for free).”

The march also attracted political undertones.

One elderly man, remarked: “VaMugabe vakarega nyika ichidai, zvinozoita here? (President Mugabe cannot allow this to happen.)”

In a snap interview with the Daily News on Sunday, Jumo said all women shall have the right to be flattered by a frugal skirt without harassment from anyone.

“We are reclaiming our streets, communicating the message that Zimbabwe is our home too, we should be free in our city,” she said.

“We refuse to have no-go-zones for women, we will not accept it. As women, we want to walk freely. We hope to sustain this momentum.”

The march ended with speeches outside Town House.

Jumo said the march was intended to emphasise that women had the right to wear what they wished and should not be demeaned or victimised over their choice of clothes. She said women deserve to have their rights respected at minibus ranks.

All the speakers condemned the harassment and abuse women regularly face, and called on society and government to uphold their rights.

As the women spoke at Town House, one man shouted: “Holy ghost fire!”

Some men said they was nothing wrong with miniskirts. It was, however, a sentiment not shared by many of the male onlookers.

While miniskirts are no longer relegated only to younger wearers, the new mini trend can be worn by anyone who feels they have the legs for it.

One young man said they were not worried with elderly women spotting mini skirts. He shouted: “Imi hamuna basa, tirikurambidza vasikana (We don’t care about you old women wearing miniskirts, we are stopping the girls only.)”

The march was something to gawk at on a Saturday morning rather than an issue to engage with.

Most of the men said they knew  women who have been abused and harassed at the minibus ranks, and agree they should be respected.

But when it comes to rallying for their rights, it seems we would rather stand back, lean against a fence and check out the miniskirts.

We would rather make jokes than ask ourselves what our values are and whether we are defending them.

Rather than standing up against abuse at a minibus rank, whether it is Copacabana or Market Square, we silently condemn the abusers and let the harassment continue.

From reactions at yesterday’s demo, there is a sense that demand for women to parade in miniskirts is being met with cheers in some corners and groans in others.

The young and leggy — and their admirers — often view the look favourably.

Others prefer more coverage.

But these days, fashion is all about choice. After all, no hemline is obligatory.


Comments (25)

Yes, the women afre entitled and it is their right to were the mini-skirts. I also feel it is also the right of any men to curiously look at any woman wearing a mini skirt.

Ndizvo Chaizvo - 5 October 2014

NO women in her right mind would want to walk in a miniskirt it's an embarrasment to womenhood. These street ladies should be ashamed of themselves

me - 5 October 2014

Of course its every woman's right to move naked. But its also everyone's right to say what they think. If touts shout 'HURE' why should a woman exercising there right feel abused.

candid - 5 October 2014

Madzima - the choice is yours. Its not the man loosing dignity here. The man are just trying to tell you what they consider a "woman". Muchenjere kufurirwa nevanonyepera kuvanemi asi vachiuya vakapfeka nguwo refu. We still need the rains.

Open Eye - 5 October 2014

Gallery: Joburg's Miniskirt March Marchers against women abuse demonstrated outside the Equility Court in Johannesburg on Friday, 17 February 2012. Members of the ANC's Women's League and Cosatu participated in the march to the court to voice their concern against attacks on women wearing miniskirts at taxi ranks. Marchers against women abuse demonstrated outside the Equility Court in Johannesburg on Friday, 17 February 2012. Members of the ANC's Women's League and Cosatu participated in the march to the court to voice their concern against attacks on women wearing miniskirts at taxi ranks. Copying from S Africa.

Der - 5 October 2014

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codzo - 6 October 2014

How wearing a mini skirt makes one hure is beyond me. So all the men who keep beards are taliban? Keep kapombi kako mubhurukwa. What's your problem you dinosaurs? Pindaiwo mu21st century mhani

Moe_Syslak - 6 October 2014

few months before rains. is your roof secure? try us for all your roof repairs, waterproofing, roof leaks, ceilings, guttering and painting. email ursrepairs@gmail.com don`t be caught offside.

we do it - 6 October 2014

kuva nehunhu ubuntu chinhu chakanaka. dzimwe nguva tinofunga kuti tirikukaurisa vamwe isu tichitozvi kuvadza. what benefit does a person get from exposing self in public? it can be ounter-productive.

simbi - 6 October 2014


CHAMBOKO - 6 October 2014

mamini skirts bodo vasikana hazvina hunhu..ngatichengetedzei hunhu hwedu kwete kungokambira zvese zvese

Praise - 6 October 2014

Dai vakapfeka dziri nhembe chaidzo kunge anaMbuya Nehanda kana kuti vakadzi venaDzviti vanemaboda anonwisa mvura.

selele - 6 October 2014

Well, one wonders were this will finally end, elsewhere in the same newspaper, we hear someone saying women shuld enjoy aborting!!

kitsi - 6 October 2014

Wise words from the Good Book: "'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'all things are lawful for me,' but I will not be enslaved by anything." (English Standard Version). The Message Translation renders it this way, "Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I'd be a slave to my whims." (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Tich - 6 October 2014

Zimbabweans are so ignorant and self-opinionated.....quoting a 2000 year old book to back up repressive views just doesn't work for intelligent people. And those hwindis are just sexist scum...@candid, so would it be okay to shout racist insults then if you think people have a right to say whatever?

MD - 6 October 2014

the Organizers of that march surely must seek urgent psychatric checkup, if miniskirts are part of Human Rights then to hell with the Human Rights discourse!

sibbs - 6 October 2014

For those with ugly fatty thighs,- don't even try it!

Johno - 6 October 2014

maThai-Venda. Shame on you.

shame - 6 October 2014

I think this demo was supposed to be dubbed 'Legalise prostitution' not Reclaiming our streets. What are you trying to show by wearing a mini which starts where it ends? I don't mind a short dress but some minis are just too obscene to be worn in public. Sorry no decent woman can do that and Katswe Sisterhood should show me one married woman in that group I would wish to meet the husband, he must be a man in turmoil.

Maita Manyuka - 7 October 2014

Moe_Slack that is not 21st century, it did not come to legalise public prostitution. Tell me what will be trying to show anyway and to who? Saka ukatenga underwear yakanaka unotofambaka uchisimudza hembe kuti ionekwe woti i human right? i 21st century. Bitch.

Maita Manyuka - 7 October 2014

PROVES 7 VS 10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, munopfekerei zvinopfekwa nezvi pfeve kana muchida kuremekedzwa semadzimai akakwana,u will be treated the same way whores are treated coz hapana musiyano pazvipfeko .1 timothy 2 vs 9 also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves. makundikana kuzvibata saka regai mahwindi akudzidzisei

MAFI - 7 October 2014

good going my sisters am a zim man and support you all the way , you need serious online , whats app , facebook , twitter , text message campaign for another monster demo or do it in all major towns and cities . rambai makadaro

mhanduwe - 7 October 2014

Majoki obvious-but havazofambe havo vakanyorwa vanongozoonekwa pazvipfeko. Seriously what kind of a woman would spare a day kuti aite a demonstration for supporting mini-skirts? Even theme yacho haina kana msoro (Just like what they were marching for)-- 'Reclaiming our streets'??? Vashandi vemuma streets ka ava. The streets are not theirs only, we also want to walk along those streets tisingaite zvekuzoshaya pekutarisa. HUNHU HWECHIJOKI MUZIMBABWE YEDU TATI KWETE. Yes mini skirts themselves are not bad, i also have a couple, but ziya kwekuapfekera. Ukaapfekera patinokuona tese nesu tisinei netukumbo twako then yo expectations shldn't be veryyyyyyy..... In fact before mabuda mumba makapfeka such there's a certain expectation you have but you do guts. You cant do indecent and expect decent. But of coz it depends on how short the short skirt is. Zvimwe varume vanozonyanyao like kungoti ikava pamsoro pemabvi zvishoma yotonzi yowe yowe. Aihwawoka varume-hembe dzakachipa maz-vano zhinji ndedzechi China & maChina vanhu vadiki saka kwatiri dzinotosvkoita pfupi, tikapfekao dzakadarika mabvi zvishoma nzwisisaio, kasi idzo dzekusvika pakati nepakati pemabvi nema bums,,,,,,,Puuuu!!! Tpuu!!! TATI KWETE-Not in Zim. Hazvina hunhu & hatizvide. Dzikamai askana misoro yenyu ngaifunge zvinovaka kwete kutoisa misoro pamwechete kusapota chijoki. Tendeukai. Ah nhai? Yoz truly Lady M-wa.

M-wa - 8 October 2014

if you take a closer look, people who go against the mini-skirts are the hwindiz, the old and wretched, the un-employed who sit around 1st street and have nothing to do and all those other funny people ....seriously how can u be affected by someone wearing what they want........wani mahwindi anopfeka hembe dzakabvaruka machest anemvere akabuda panze, pane anombo vabvunza?...Ubuntu must be upholded but it doesn't stop you from doing what you want as long as it isn`t a crime.....

dean dimitri - 11 November 2014

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