Last week, a member of the Ghanaian legislature made a contentious statement on the floor of parliament: he called for a ban on what he sees as 'indecent dressing', popularly known as 'Apuskeleke' in the country.
The Hon Stephen Kunsu, MP for Kintampo North, in a statement on adulteration of Ghanaian culture, said some Ghanaian ladies have been to dressing indecently in the name of fashion and this is a situation that he believes must not be allowed to continue.
He therefore proposed the enactment of laws to ban indecent dressing in the country. He said such a law should give powers to the appropriate institutions to impose on-the-spot fines on offenders.
But his proposals have unleashed a stem of condemnation from gender and human rights advocates. One such activist, Nana Oye Lithur, co-ordinator of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, has described the call by the MP as regrettable and an attempt to breach the rights of women in the country.
Mrs. Lithur says that though our constitution makes provision for indecent acts, there is no set standard of indecent dressing and it would be a mistake to make rash laws forbidding things we have not as a nation delineated. She said the wiser thing would be to open a debate on what constitutes indecent dressing and when the nation has arrived at a definition, laws can be enacted to that effect.
One of the issues of greatest consternation for Mrs. Lithur is that every time indecency or adulteration of culture comes up, it is women who are targeted as the ones perverting it when preservation of culture is the responsibility of all Africans. Men are no less to blame than women, she said.