Kigali – A 24-year-old woman who was arrested in Rwanda for wearing “shameful” clothing faces up to two years in jail for “public indecency”, prosecutors said on Thursday.
Liliane Mugabekazi was arrested on August 7 after she attended a concert by popular French musician Tayc eight days earlier, wearing a sheer dress.
“She attended the concert while wearing clothes that reveal her private parts… clothes that we call shameful,” prosecutors said, accusing her of committing a “serious crime”.
“It is on these serious grounds that we ask the court to remand Mugabekazi for 30 days.”
“She is suspected to have committed public indecency,” the spokesperson for the prosecution, Faustin Nkusi, told AFP, adding that the court would announce on Tuesday whether she would receive bail.
News of the arrest sparked outrage among some Rwandans, but government officials including former justice minister Johnston Busingye backed the move.
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“The current issue of our young men and women who drink and drug themselves unconscious, appear in public literally naked is objectionable,” tweeted Busingye, who is now Rwanda’s ambassador to Britain.
“I support the efforts… to address it.”
In a TV interview last week police spokesman John Bosco Kabera rebuked what he called “immorality and indecency among young people.”
“This problem is escalating… you find an individual wearing only a shirt only… without pants or shorts,” he said.
“These people then go to public places dressed like that, with clothes that look like nets.”
When the programme host asked him if “such people did not have a right to dress as they please,” he responded: “The first right is to dress well, not dressing indecently.”
In recent years many Rwandans have fallen foul of the country’s strict indecency laws.
In March, police arrested a 20-year-old woman for “public drunkenness and indecent assault” after a video of her lying on the ground in an alcoholic stupor circulated on social media.
The East African nation’s rights record has been sharply criticised by campaigners, who accuse President Paul Kagame’s government of crushing any dissent.