Strict of­fi­cial dress code sparks anger in Uganda

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ugandan public ser­vants yes­ter­day hit out at a list of strict new rules for­bid­ding them from show­ing cleav­age, hav­ing long nails, dyed hair or wear­ing skirts above the knee. But for many in the con­ser­va­tive east African na­tion, the main con­cern seemed to be the cost of im­ple­ment­ing the rules, rather than the rules them­selves, and the fact that work­ers had not been con­sulted. “Women get less pay. This di­rec­tive will make women fear go­ing to work­places for fear of los­ing their jobs be­cause they don’t have money to buy new dresses and change hair­styles,” said Agnes Ku­ni­hira, the work­ers rep­re­sen­ta­tive in par­lia­ment said.

Winifred Akech, 34, a public of­fi­cer in one of the gov­ern­ment agen­cies told AFP, she was forced to bor­row money to cut her hair as the hair­style she had was banned un­der the new di­rec­tive. “I didn’t have money to go to a salon and cut my hair be­cause it has a tint (colour) and was forced to bor­row from a friend. This is em­bar­rass­ing to me. Se­condly, I feel my right to a hair­style of my choice is be­ing tram­pled upon,” she said. A state­ment from the min­istry of public ser­vice on Tues­day out­lined the list of strict rules, say­ing that public of­fi­cers had been dress­ing in­de­cently.

It said women should not wear tight clothes, skirts or dresses above the knees or re­veal their back or cleav­age. Civil ser­vants “are also re­quired to keep their hair neat with­out color, on top of main­tain­ing pol­ished short nails not more than three cen­time­ters.” “Ex­ag­ger­ated make-up” is also a no-no. Men are re­quired to wear trousers-but not too tight-jack­ets, a neck-tie and closed shoes. Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment those con­tra­ven­ing the rules would be given a warn­ing, and re­peat of­fend­ers would face dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

Outspoken Ugandan aca­demic Stella Nyanzi, who is cur­rently on trial for cy­ber ha­rass­ment for call­ing Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni a “pair of but­tocks”, did not hold back on her Face­book page about the new guide­lines. “Who re­ally cares what public ser­vants in Uganda wear, when the em­peror walks around naked?” she wrote, again tak­ing aim at Mu­sev­eni’s but­tocks with a se­ries of col­or­ful de­scrip­tions. She said the coun­try should not be dis­tracted amid ef­forts to scrap a pres­i­den­tial age limit of 75 years, widely seen as a bid by Mu­sev­eni, now 72, to seek a sixth term in of­fice. —AFP

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