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She was publicly stripped and beaten for wearing a mini-skirt.

Grainy videos of two attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi, taken on mobile phones and circulated widely via Twitter and other social media, show mobs of men surrounding the women, wresting off their clothes and appearing to kick them in their genital area.

One of the march’s organisers said she was aware of 10 separate attacks across Kenya.

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Protesters chanting “My dress, my choice!” (AFP: Simon Maina)

Violence affects women, men, boys and girls, and if left to continue gaining currency, will deny us healthy relationships,” organiser Ruth Knaust told Capital FM radio.

The Nairobi attack, which happened in broad daylight on a busy street last week, sparked outrage in the cosmopolitan capital.

Deputy president William Ruto called the incident barbaric and Inspector General Police David Kimaiyo has appealed to the victim to come forward, local media reported.

The march, which was made up mostly of women, was an unusual public display of support for women’s rights in Kenya, where sex crimes are rarely prosecuted.

Women are being assaulted,” protester Diana Okello said.

“We especially want to know what the women we chose as leaders are doing.”

Men also took part in the protest, which brought city centre traffic to a standstill.

How they dress shld be non of your business.

A video posted by Denn Masive (@dennmasive) on

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“I think the reason this sparked such outrage is it was so graphic and everyone who watched it felt violated,” male artist and activist Boniface Mwangi, who donned a short dress for the march, said.

“It could have been my wife, my daughter, my mother.”

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(AFP: Simon Maina)

The crowd waved banners and chanted “My Dress, My Choice”, then marched across central Nairobi to a bus stop that was the site of the attack.

“African women are given a long list of things they need to do to earn respect, whereas men are respected just because they are men,” Ciru Muriuki, a radio producer in Nairobi, said.

“This is our way of saying, it’s my body and I can dress it any way I see fit.”

However, some have taken to Twitter to defend the men using the hashtag #NudityIsNotMyChoice.

“An African woman should be decent,” James Macharia, a 26-year-old student who stood watching the rally with a group of other men, said.

“They are provoking us, and I think we should put in place laws to curb that.”

The attacks recalled similar incidents in neighbouring Uganda, which passed an anti-pornography law last December that was widely seen as banning short skirts.

AFP/Reuters

 

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