Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) Board Chairperson Sera Longwe says the University of Zambia’s decision to impose a library dress code on female students is an infringement on their freedom of expression.

Longwe told News Diggers in interview that the decision by UNZA management to stop female students from going to study in the school library ‘half naked’ was a form of sexual harassment because the institution had no dress code.

Longwe advised UNZA management to instead teach its male students how to control themselves when seduced.

“Management at the University must not engage themselves in violating the human rights of the female students of self expression. Why are they blaming the women? They should blame the men for lacking self control. It’s their irresponsible male ego which should be blamed. If they haven’t learnt how to control themselves, this is an exercise for them to do it. They should have just ignored it and told the men who went complaining to them to say where is your self control? How are you going to change nappies of your daughters if you just get aroused by legs? No one is moving around with no pants, so it’s all in the imagination of the onlooker, so they should have just told them off instead of encouraging them,” Longwe said.

Longwe charged that the University of Zambia had produced a number of respectable people, both male and female who never paid attention to dress code while studying because they knew their goals.

“This is not the first time that we have had mini skirts paraded at that university. I am a graduate of the University of Zambia myself, and we used to dress in hot pants, we used to dress in mini skirts and we were never approached, told off or anything. So where is this coming from? Because very prominent people have gone through that university before and we never had such rubbish. This is being entertained by the management and it gives a lot of thought of what the management thinking is about the gender equality that they have been preaching and they are supposed to give an example. They are not supposed to favour one gender. Yes we live in a country of laws and laws have always been there, even the time when we were there and they are still the same laws. So what has changed? What has changed is that people are not exercising self control? We have lost morality because people don’t exercise self control and respecting other people’s expressions. There is no uniform at the university, so where does the management start coming and telling people about indecent dressing? Who decides which is decent dressing and what is indecent dressing? Can they tell us?” she demanded.

“I have seen in your article people suggesting that it’s better to have hijab, but even in hijab there is lack of self control. People are raping women who are dressed, they are raping nuns. Where is the provocation from a nun who is dressed from head to toe, or a hijab woman who has worn a rob. So that’s rubbish! All this just has to do with preservation of your morals as an individual. Just like when you want to go to the toilet, you don’t start defecating everywhere just because you want to defecate but you hide it until you are in a place where you can do it, that’s self control. And the men have no self control they ‘wee-wee’ anyhow, does it mean that us women we don’t want to ‘wee-wee’? If it were women ‘wee-weeing’ everywhere you would have seen that they would have arrested the women but the men are doing it anywhere and no one stops them. That’s the discrimination we are talking about, where you allow a certain behaviour to a certain gender but you don’t allow the same behaviour by the other gender,” Longwe said.

Longwe said the University management had always been biased.

“No the management has been biased. Management has been biased because it listens to the males who go to complain, blaming the women for arousing them when he himself is arousing himself by thinking beyond what he is supposed to think about while in the library. When you are in the library you are supposed to be busy, you are supposed to be studying. Yes men are only human and can be aroused but control it, we women control it too. So what the management at UNZA is doing is sexual harassment, the female students are being sexually harassed by the management because they will be stopping them. Someone will sit and say ‘you, you are badly dressed go back’, that’s sexual harassment also because that school has no dress code. So how are they going to control that? This is just harassment on the girls and it’s being spearheaded by the management. That is shameful! At the institution where there should be a lot of learning and understanding and self control, they are supposed to instill self control in those boys who went complaining to management, if I were they, I would have said ‘hey! what’s wrong with you? Have you come to study here or you’ve come to do pornography?’ That’s what I would answer them,” said Longwe.