5 Sep 2005

PNG Bougainville chiefs ban women wearing trousers

4:05 pm on 5 September 2005

The Leitana Council of Elders in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville has forbidden women to wear shorts or trousers.

The Chiefs say this is because trousers and shorts are responsible for the increase in rape and sexual harassment cases of women in Bougainville.

The chiefs says it's also against Bougainville culture for women to wear these clothes.

However, the Director of Leitana Nehan Women's Agency, Helen Hakena, disagrees with the chiefs.

She says it's men's behavior which is responsible for the increase in rape and a change in attitude is needed.

"We ask men to change their attitudes and behavior because its men's behavior which is causing a lot of rape and the escalation of rape just recently. And by wearing trousers women are saying it is not against any law. There is no law in the Bougainville constitution which states that women should not be wearing shorts or trousers."

Helen Hakena says the ban goes against basic human rights and is seeking further discussion with the chiefs.