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Rwandan woman faces up to two years in jail for dressing indecently

A Rwandan woman is facing up to two years in jail after her photo while dressed in a revealing black dress went viral. 

Mugabekazi Lilliane, 24, who appeared in the viral photo was on August 7 after she attended a concert by popular French musician Tayc eight days earlier, wearing a sheer dress and taken to a Kigali court where she was charged with public indecency.

In recent years many Rwandans have fallen foul of the country’s strict indecency laws.

In March, police arrested a 20-year-old woman for “public drunkenness and indecent assault” after a video of her lying on the ground in an alcoholic stupor circulated on social media.

The East African nation’s rights record has been sharply criticised by campaigners, who accuse President Paul Kagame’s government of crushing any dissent.

“She was charged with “Public Indecency” for which she could be jailed for up to 2 years as par Art. 143 of Penal Code,” the law states. 

“Any person who performs an indecent act in public, commits an offence. Upon conviction, is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than 6 months and not more than 2 years,” the law states. 

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Her lawyer asked the court for the case to be heard in camera – in the private chambers of a judge, with the press and public excluded.

She was denied bail and will stay in detention as pleaded by Prosecution in closed session. 

According to a petition on Mugabekazi was enjoying a concert last month when a picture of her was taken. 

Days later, that same picture circulated on the internet with many calling it “indecent” and eventually led to her being arrested pending “investigation”. 

“Women have the right to choose what to do with their bodies without fear of prosecution. Rapists are roaming the streets of Kigali freely but our resources are used to police what women wear?” it asks. 

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It adds that nobody should have to be ridiculed, paraded and victimized like this. 

“What does this say about our country? When do we stop shaming women for their choices? We call upon the Rwanda National Police and the Government for the immediate release of Liliane.

For a country that claims to be “progressive” and cares for women’s rights, now is the time to prove that!” 

Netizens pointed out that the dress was decent, it only looked sheer because the photographer may have used a flash hence illuminating it as such. Black outfits most times turns transparent under the camera flash.

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