24/12/2012 09:35 GMT | Updated 24/12/2012 10:17 GMT

Swaziland Women Banned From Wearing Mini-Skirts And Crop Tops That 'Inspire Rape'

Women in mini-skirts or cropped tops could be arrested in Swaziland - because their dress provokes rapists, a police spokeswoman has said.

The BBC reported spokeswoman Wendy Hleta as saying police would now enforce an 1889 law in the African kingdom, which bans "immoral" dressing.

The colonial-era law is not currently enforced in practice, but police were now beginning to receive complaints about the immodest dress, and would be following up those complaints from now on, she said.


Women in traditional dress are exempt from the ban

The penalty is a fine of up to £6 or a jail-term of up to six months if they failed to pay the fine.

The law has come under the spotlight since women planned march in the Swaziland city of Manzini, where women wore short skirts to protest a spate of brutal rapes in the city.

The Times of Swaziland reported her statement as: "We do not encourage that women should be harmed, but at the same time people should note acceptable conduct of behaviour.

"The act of the rapist is made easy because it would be easy to remove the half-cloth worn by the women.

"I have read from the social networks that men and even other women have a tendency of 'undressing people with their eyes'. That becomes easier when the clothes are hugging or are more revealing."

Women who are breast-feeding or wearing cultural regalia are exempt from the ban.

One other exemption is the annual dance in honour of Swaziland's monarch King Mswati III, where he choses a new wife. He currently has 13 spouses.

Young bare-breasted virgins only cover the front of their legs with beaded skirts, leaving the back exposed. Underwear is not allowed during the dance.