Home | News    Sunday 12 September 2010

Traditional leaders in Melut County of Upper Nile deplore public indecent dressing

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September 10, 2010 (MELUT) — A traditional leadership council in Melut county of Upper Nile state has condemned what it called inappropriate dressing in the public, mostly practiced by teenagers.

This came following a report that a group of young men on Thursday beat up a young lady, identified as Regina James Thon, allegedly for her inappropriate dressing while leaving Melut Market back to her village.

She said she was attacked by the young men who accused her of trying to seduce men into having sex with her through her “indecent dress.” “They stopped me and told me to remove my clothes because the way I was dressed, it was as if I wanted to walk naked,” the 19-year-old told the local police.

Sultan Ayong Deng, a traditional leader at Melut traditional court centre on Friday told an audience that the indecent dressing was not acceptable as it contravened cultural values.

The decision was backed by the Commissioner of Melut County, Akuoc Teng Diing, who supported the position of the traditional leaders, saying “any dressing against the public eyes is not acceptable and as government we support position of the traditional leaders.”

“This is one of the practices that we as government cannot encourage. It brings bad image to our culture,” said Diing, shortly after arrival from Malakal at UNMIS helicopter landing site.

Quizzed by the local police during interrogation, Regina said she was afraid, and so did what she was told by removing her clothes and people began to mock her.

Juac Thon, a police officer handling the case said Regina told them that the young men were punishing her for allegedly dressing in an alluring way with the intention of passing on the HIV virus, a claim she denied. “They said I wanted to spread HIV, yet they didn’t know my status,” she said.

“Among rural southern communities, elders sensitized by HIV/AIDs authorities are trying to fight HIV, but their methods, which often involve punishing women perceived to be immoral, are misguided,” said Akec Kuol Miyen, a community health worker in the area.

“Communities believe in upholding moral values but while having moral[ility] is good, people have rights and when you punish them for wearing certain clothes... you defeat your cause,” added Miyen.

Aguer Thon Dau, a community elder at the court, said he believed returning to ancient cultural values is the best way to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and he and several other elders have been encouraging locals to punish any “inappropriately” dressed women.

“If women start dressing decently no man will have to look at them and people will only have their wives. The way they are dressing today, they are leading young men astray,” he added.

Abdullah Omer, another elder from northern Sudan who is running a small scale business in the town, also blamed women’s choice of clothing for putting local communities at risk. “If you find a man sleeping with many women, it is because those women have attracted him in one way or another,” he said. He further said that "such behavior brings a lot of concerns into the communities and that something needs to be done before it becomes too late."

Local authorities in most southern states are however fighting such negative attitude towards women and trying to educate the local communities to behave more responsibly and with more respect for women’s rights. “When you punish women for dressing indecently, then it is like you are putting the responsibility of making sure you stay free of HIV on others,” said Deng Mawien Dut, an official with the Government of Southern Sudan from Juba.

“First and foremost it is your responsibility and people must be made to know this. We have tried to educate people that somebody’s clothing is not an invitation to have sex,” he said.

Maika Lisok Arona, Deputy Director for monitoring and evaluation framework from the Juba based HIV/AIDS commission, said each state is obliged to form an HIV/ AIDS committee and coordinate with legal experts and police officers to explain to the elders and locals the consequences of violence against women.

“Now some of them know what they have been doing is gender-based violence if it can be justified. You cannot beat a woman because she wears transparently or half naked with assumption that she has AIDs that is why she dressed like that to attract men. May be that is what she likes and has been allowed by her parents,” he said.

Arona added that local people needed to be educated about the correct ways of fighting the spread of HIV. “The way they are doing it, they are doing more damage because some people are being criminalized and discriminated against in the process,” he said.

“Young men in rural areas need education for it appears efforts of community workers seem to be paying off,” said Arona, adding, he did not believe in flogging women because of the way they may be dressed.

“What are you saying when you tell people a woman in a short skirt wants sex? You are telling them also that it is good to rape such a woman because she wanted sex. We have heard cases where men have raped women and then said it was because they were putting on miniskirts. It is bad and I can’t support it,” he said.

(ST)

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  • 12 September 2010 06:37, by Gatwech

    It looks like a sharia law, but I agree that too much exposure of thighs and chest by these street girls is not healthy.

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    • 12 September 2010 08:59, by mayom maboung marek

      those boyz were not exactly intended to do evil harm to her, but to alert the daugher[s] of the land not to show how God had created her. the girl might be pretty, and why does she dress in a way to make herself look bad was the concern of gentlemen.

      Girls, this is not a joke!! dress decently.

      mayom maboung

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  • 12 September 2010 08:22, by Oduck Bol

    You are in midle Dinkas Mulut. You wearing Arabic clothes and msilims than you do not want westerns styles what idiot people.
    Collo of Mullut always independent.

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    • 12 September 2010 11:43, by Padiet Deng Alony

      Hi Oduck, finish your dish with Arab first then cliam to insult Dinka of Maluth.
      Go and develop your counties first in the western bank then try to say collo of maluth as you said. Collo are parasite of Maluth not collo of Maluth watch out do not play with Fire. do not generalise issue and keep away from insulting people. be specific in your comment

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  • 12 September 2010 12:13, by Padiet Deng Alony

    Human being is free since the creation. to wear what ever s/he choose to be ok if that one is not affecting other. traditionally our grandfathers use to work naked the clothes we are wearing now are from arab and western style, if we choose the tradition then it will be worst then western style because all will walk nake as per our tradition or we choose the muslim dress. we do not have dressing code in Southern Sudan to punish those who violate it, do we.
    punishing them is not a solution but give an awareness or stop the traders who bring these type of dress to enter Southern Sudan. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa we are in 21 Century and different generations are coming with thier ideas because world become one village. we do respect our tradition all over Southern but the harmful one like bringing out teeth should be avioded and modernise them other wise we will be allurgard

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    • 13 September 2010 08:24, by Bayugopai

      I agree, A man is responsible for his actions. If a woman is raped it it the fault of the rapist. No one has the right to make another disrobe. The Northern system is to blame women for men’s abuse. The South should stand for individual responsibility, not blaming the victim.

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  • 12 September 2010 14:23, by Santino Nuan

    Dear readers

    Let me assure you that this report is full of fallawness and lairs. There is no such incident of indecent dressing happened in Meluth County. There is no correspendent mentioned here of which the report originated him/her. It is clear that this report might have meant for another area rather than Melut but the Web reporter have cut and paste information and attributed it to Melut County.

    The only truth in this report is the name of Commissioner of Melut H.E Akuoc Teng but for sure the report is not about Melut because of the following reasons:

    (1) There is no traditional leadership Council in Melut County and I doubt where the reporter got this information.
    (2) We people of Meluth County have no Sultan called Ayong Deng and we don’t even name our people as Ayong except Dinka Dongjol of Akoka County. We don’t even use word Sultan as reference for for traditional leader. Such title is only used in greater Bhar Al Gazal for local chiefs. Where were the reporter got this reference for a chief in Melut County?

    (3) There is no police officer called Juac Thon in Melut County. I don’t know where the reporter got this name? This issue of attributing report to an area of which no such thing happen is seriously bad.

    We people of Melut have no problem with what person wears or dresses. As Padiet Alony have put it correctly, we have no problem. God created human being free. Our traditional cutlture does not restrict ladies from dressing in a way they like.

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