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Kenyans Protest Attacks Against Women Over 'Skimpy' Clothing

Women take part in a protest, demanding justice for a woman who was attacked and stripped recently in Nairobi by men who claimed that she was dressed indecently, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 17, 2014.

Hundreds of Kenyans marched in Nairobi on Monday, protesting recent attacks by groups of men against women wearing mini-skirts or other clothing they deemed to be too provocative.

The protesters, chanting “My Dress, My Choice,” voiced their outrage after a grainy mobile phone video was recently circulated on social media, showing a group of men attacking and stripping a woman whom they felt was wearing a skirt that was too skimpy.

Protesters said they want the male assailants be brought to justice. They then proceeded to march across Nairobi's downtown to a bus stop that was the site of one of the attacks.

One protest organizer said she was aware of at least 10 such attacks across Kenya, including in Nairobi, the capital; Mombasa, and in Nyeri, in Kenya's central highlands.

None of those responsible has been arrested, but Kenya's police chief has urged the women who were attacked to file a complaint so the incidents can be investigated.

Social media hashtag

#MyDressMyChoice is trending on social media in Kenya, where Western-influenced lifestyles are clashing with traditional African ways.

“This is a journey of liberation. It is not just about dressing, it is about liberation of women from oppression because what we felt happened to that woman is so wrong and even up to now no one has been arrested. So we want action to be taken, there is a video. Something can be done,” Diana Ross Akello, one of the protest organizers, told Reuters.

Some men took part in the protest, but demonstrators also came out in opposition, demanding women wear more conservative clothes.

James Wamathai was marching because he believes in equal rights, he told The Associated Press.

“I think it's really horrible and no women should have to go through that,” said Wamathai, 33, who does commercial media work. “It's a weird sexual fetish. If you see some of the videos some of the men are groping the women. … But it's not based on anything (like religion) because in Africa we didn't used to wear clothes.”

However, park worker Ulda Akinyi, who watched the demonstration, said she has instructed her three daughters to dress conservatively. “Wearing miniskirts is the devil's work,” Akinyi told the AP.

Some material for this report came from Reuters, AP and AFP.

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