Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

AFRICA AND THE DIASPORA => Uganda => Topic started by: Nakandi on August 15, 2017, 03:35:43 PM

Title: Uganda's colonial-style dress code
Post by: Nakandi on August 15, 2017, 03:35:43 PM
Uganda's new dress code for civil servants is another "decency" campaign aiming to control women's bodies.
byAnneeth Kaur Hundle
Dr Anneeth Kaur Hundle is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California.

In July, the Ugandan government released a circular from the Ministry of Public Service that imposed a stricter dress code for male and female public servants.

Under these guidelines, men may not wear tight trousers, must wear a jacket and tie and keep their hair short and well-groomed. The dress code for women is much more detailed.

According to the circular, women should not dress in a short skirt that is above the knees and should wear a "smart" long-sleeved or short-sleeved blouse. Cleavage, navel, knees, and back must be covered at all times. The circular also provides guidance on hair, make-up, and nails for Ugandan women: Bright-coloured hair, braids or hair extensions, long nails, or bright or multicoloured nail polish are proscribed.

Violators of the code will receive warnings and women who violate the code are already being sent home from work. Repeat offenders could face disciplinary action.

The dress code guidelines are couched in the language of "decency", the idea of "dressing decently" or "smartly" - language that is often used in the postcolonial British English of former British colonies.

A colonial remnant

Decency campaigns, and the institutionalisation of dress codes, are not new to the East African and broader African postcolonial context. Historically, colonial civilising missions sought to instill European Victorian norms of "decency" and "respectability" within African indigenous societies, often seeking to "modernise" the minds, bodies, and psyches of African men and women.

One core arena of these practices was dress: nakedness or other forms of indigenous dress were viewed as "backwards", "primitive" and "traditional" in the worldview of the Western coloniser.

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