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•Like going back to Eden, stripping becomes new craze
By Perpetua Egesimba ([email protected])
As Bimpe stepped out of the car, everyone fixed an embarrassing gaze on her. All heads turned because she was just wearing an underpants and a revealing tank top, showing her cleavages and her belly. As she made her way into a shopping complex in Oshodi, Lagos, some of the men sneered at her while others booed her. Gradually, it turned into a walk of shame, as market men and women hauled insults on her. Shamed, she quickly turned back, entered her car and sped off.
Bimpe is not alone. Indeed, indecent dressing has become a way of life. What most people wear nowadays in the name of fashion offend people’s sensibility. Both men and women are guilty of the act. The men sag their trousers revealing their underpants (boxers), they wear tattered jeans with holes, tight fitting and/or unbuttoned shirts while the women have gone haywire. For the women, it seems that they are determined to return to Eden. Everywhere you go, you see young and not-so-young women, parading in dresses that barely cover anything. Even in places of worship and offices, they throw breasts at you without a care. In fact, if you do not drop your breasts outside or the hems of clothes are not up, the ‘fashionistas’ regard you as unfashionable.
Recently, Students of University of Lagos (UNILAG) went protesting when the school management released a circular, banning clothes that expose the body, such as tight trousers, mini-skirts, midriff blouses and other body revealing wears.
The circular reads: “All clothes, which reveal sensitive parts of the body, such as the bust, chest, belly, upper arms and the buttocks. Example of such dresses are transparent clothing, spaghetti tops, tubes and skirts and dresses with slits above the knees fall in this category.”
In a bid to address indecency and immorality in Nigeria, the former Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women Affairs, Social Welfare & Youth Development, Senator Eme Ufot Ekaette, sometime ago proposed a Bill for an Act to Prohibit and Punish Public Nudity, Sexual Intimidation and Other related offences.
The bill was to ensure that the moral attitudes, cultural and traditional norms of the society were preserved.
The bill defined public nudity, as a state of nakedness in the public or open, state of indecent dressing, which exposes in public or in the open the breast of a female above 14 years, the laps of a female above 14 years, the belly or waist of a female above 14 years, any part of the body from two inches below the shoulders downwards to the knee of a female person above 14 years, any part of the body of the male person above 14 years from the waist to the knee and any form of dressing with transparent cloth or clothing in public or the open, which exposes any part of the body from two inches below the shoulders level downwards to the knee of the female person above 14, among others.
The bill generated a lot of controversy from several groups and most Nigerians condemned it. Some even asked why the distinguished Senator considered the question of how people choose to dress in a tropical country like Nigeria instead of addressing the issue of children being abused because of accusations of witchcraft in some areas.
An actress, Princess Oji told Daily Sun that people who advertise sensitive parts of their body are attention seekers, particularly those in the entertainment business. She said: “Although it depends on the kind of audience, people pay to watch them so they do anything to keep the audience entertained. If it is not to get attention, why would someone dress almost naked? Why would somebody expose her body indecently in the name of fashion? You see the guys wearing just pants, performing on stage and that is not ideal because children are watching all these on the television.”
She noted that most upcoming artists indulge in indecent dressing because of the impression that it will launch them to stardom quickly, which is wrong. She argued that many of the notable names in the industry achieved success through hard work.
“You can attest that their attitude, carriage and actions were worthy of emulation. They were role models and didn’t do anything that was irresponsible. So, everything is all about packaging. Most of the celebrities use their bodies to catapult their careers and create fame, especially the foreign ones. However, it adds no value; what is bad is bad. “I will say that women who go about naked are actually debasing womanhood,” she said.
According to her, nowadays, one will not be called a celebrity if she does not expose what ought to be covered. And if anyone raises a voice, they would be seen as not being exposed or sophisticated. She, however, pointed out that celebrities were not the only people guilty of indecent dressing.
Temitope Ojo said that she did not dress to attract attention of anybody but if people decide to stare, they are welcome so long as she feels good and safe.
She said: “Why should I be bothered that people are staring at me? Is there any law that says I cannot wear what I like? It is so sad that we are in the part of the world where men feel that women should be their slaves, that they are entitled to every women they see. It is my body; I can wear whatever I like. Who are you to judge me that I don’t have morals because of what I am wearing?”
She said that the same men that condemned a lady publicly for putting on something sexy by calling her a prostitute would go secretly to admire, adore and even woo her.
“We live a pretentious life in this part of the world and that is why we are not growing, rather going backward. I’m sorry to say this: African mentality won’t allow us to develop fast. A psychopath, who cannot control his sexual libido, rapes a woman and you blame the woman for wearing something sexy. When you are hungry in traffic, do you snatch a sausage from the hawker because he tempted you by hawking the product? We need to grow up, it is a free world, she argued.”
Barrister Christiana Chinenye Ndubuisi advised people, especially women to stop exposing their bodies, adding that even the Bible called the body the temple of God. She said: “Ideally, people, especially women, should be conscious of what they wear. Learn to carry yourself with sense of dignity. Wearing clothes that expose your body means that you don’t appreciate God, who created you. You don’t have a sense of dignity and responsibility.
“The way you dress will speak for you. Your wisdom and intellect is what will attract the right people to you, not your nakedness. If you are intelligent and a good person and you dress yourself in a way that will label you a prostitute, people will have to approach you to know that you are not, which is not possible in most cases because you sent the wrong impression.
“You don’t go about exposing your nakedness all in the name of fashion. It is not your nakedness that people want to see. They want to see your wisdom and intelligence. Those who dress like that most times have nothing valuable to offer. The man is not complete without a woman. So, why go about exposing the thing that will complete your being to the whole world?”
She added: “Ignorance, insecurity and lack of fear of God are the reasons people dress the way they do. The implication is that it is an invitation to lose men out there because you begin to draw unnecessary attention, like rape. Although your dress sense does not justify the action of rape and most cases of rape does not have anything to do with indecent dressing. But for men with psychological problems, it is an incentive for them.”
To get rid of the social malady, she said the proper way to go about it is reorientation and educating people on right values. She suggested that schools should have dress code and parents should also educate and teach their children the right values. “In schools, they should have rules like the uniform not being shorter to a certain level so that the children will grow up with the right value system.”
For Eze Peter Umeh, Ezechimereze 1, Ezendigbo of Mushin, nudity is not something we want in African society. He stated emphatically that it is very bad and has it’s implications on African value system.
His words: “First, nudity or indecent dressing is not an African thing, it is a foreign culture. Unfortunately, we have come to an era where showing some skin seems to be the in-thing and sometimes termed the new definition of sexy by some people while others call it civilization. Indecent dressing is an impediment on our morals and values. Nigerian ladies shouldn’t dress half naked to occasions all in the name of fashion because there is a prestige placed on African women.
“You know what they say about dressing the way you would like to be addressed. There are some offices you will enter and they will look at you somehow because of the way you dress. For instance, you are walking on the road and something happens. People may think that you are involved because of the way you dressed. Innocent people have been mistaken for thieves and arrested or lynched because of the way they dressed and some girls have been embarrassed and even abused because of their outrageous outfits.
“There was something that happened recently. I was passing and one lady like that was wearing a very short skirt revealing her inner wears. As she was walking, she tried drawing the skirt down and some guys started calling her names like prostitute. She started replying them and before you could say Jack, they went near her and tried to molest her. It was a terrible site. At the end of the day, it was the women that rescued her from being raped. And they gave her another cloth to wear after advising her. So, my point is, if she hadn’t dressed that way, she wouldn’t have attracted such manner of irresponsible people. That is part of it. I am sure she learnt her lesson that day. As a lady, if you dress indecently, it will attract these motor park people, who will call you all sorts of names.”
Eze Umeh said traditionally, most times, when a man wants to get married to a lady but starts hearing unpleasant stories about the way she dresses, he might be discouraged from getting married to her by his friends. According to him, indecent dressing has a lot of disadvantages and it is not good for the society because the young ones are looking up to the older ones.
He said the word fashion has been bastardized, stressing that it is not everything that a woman sees that she should wear. “Different designs will keep coming out but it behooves you to choose the ones that will not expose your body.
“This is Africa, not western world where everything goes. Dress like an Africa woman, cover your body well and stop exposing them to the public. It is your body and should not be exposed for all to see.”
He regretted that married women are also in the business of dressing half naked, wondering the values they are teaching their daughters. He said in the past, women dressed decently but since Africans embraced foreign culture, the story has changed and the women now dress anyhow.
“Once they see that foreign dressing, they assume it is the best, not considering how it looks on them or what part of their body it is exposing which is very wrong and non African. Ideal African dressing for women is covering your body properly and even your head with scarf. For instance, our dressing helps or shows who we are or what you are. When you see an Eze or an Oba in his traditional attire you will know who they are without being told.”
Chief Imam, Alausa Secretariat Mosque, Alhaji Rafiu Babatunde Kassim said the Quran talked a lot about mode of dressing for people in chapter 7 verse 26 to 27.
“It said that we have created clothing for the children of Adam; that is every human being. That we should dress modestly, cover our private parts and all our bodies because they are the temples of the Almighty God. We should not dress indecently and that has been the reason Allah says that when you are going to the Mosque, you should dress well. On Friday, put on one of your best clothing, you are coming to serve your creator, don’t just dress indecently.”
According to him, when most people want to dress for an interview, they dress formally because if they don’t, there is 100 percent chance that they might not get the job. He wondered why people who can afford to dress formally for an interview would dress half naked walking on the street, saying that they truly know that what they are doing is wrong.
The cleric said: “This is happening because they don’t know God and that is why they dress anyhow. I am sorry I am picking on women but most of them are the reason for all these rapes we hear and other related molestation. Originally, God created women specially. For some, it is their voice that will attract the men and for others, it is their shape. The fact is, there are so many things in women that can attract a man even when they dress properly, not to mention the one that dresses immodestly, exposing parts of the body that is supposed to be covered. This is why some men who cannot control themselves end up raping some of them, which is bad. You will see some with heavy buttocks wearing trousers without wearing anything inside. They are just attracting men to do fornication with them.”
He said government should wake up to its responsibilities, adding that there are different traditional modes of dressing in Nigeria that tells were a person comes from. He added that Nigerians are facing so much calamities because they keep copying everything they see from the west.
Reverend Nwosu Samuel Udoka of Spiritan International School of Theology, Enugu, remarked that many people dress the way they do based on where they belong, which is often influenced by modernization.
Consider what Rev Udoka said: “Many look for what is in vogue and spend their money on them. Most of these indecent dresses are invented by artists and are later copied by their fans, even without an idea of the spirit behind those fashions. Some want to look like some celebrities. In some Churches, some church members want to look like their pastors in their bizarre outlooks. So, people look for something new no matter how odd it is or looks on them.”
According to him, the current fanciful and absurd dress code has a lot of negative effects on the society. He noted that when people dress like their models, they also try to live and move like them even as most of them have questionable lifestyles.
“It is said that people are addressed the way they dress. Our dress codes say a lot about us. We are also influenced by our dressing. For instance, a reasonable bank manager cannot sit in the office with a sleeveless shirt, a short and football boots,” said.
Rev. Nwosu explained that the scripture condemns indecent dressing in Deuteronomy Chapter 22 verse 5, when it said that a woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord detests anyone who does it
He said two passages in the New Testament outlined proper dressing for women. “1Timothy chapter 2:9-10, said: “‘I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
“1 Peter chapter 3 verse 2 to 5 also said: ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past, who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.”’
According to him, many of the New Testament letters address specific abuses that occurred in the early Christian communities. He stressed that it may be the case presently.
He pointed out that the scripture did not talk about the women alone but also included the men but that women were often mentioned in the Bible because the Bible days were male-dominated
“Now many men make hairs and put on jewelries like ear rings. These are all influenced by the spirit of modernism, which is not of God.”