Rwandan woman faces two years in jail for 'indecent' dressing

Friday August 19 2022

Rwandan authorities have arrested and taken to court a young woman over ‘indecent’ dressing. PHOTO | FILE

By Ange Iliza

Rwandan authorities have arrested and taken to court a young woman over ‘indecent’ dressing, after a photo of her in a fish net attire at a music concert appeared on social media.

If convicted, the 24-year-old faces six months to two years in prison. 

On Thursday, a judge at Kigali-based Kicukiro Primary court declined to grant her bail, with the prosecution requesting that she be detained for 30 days as the investigation continues.

The case was held in camera.

The Law Determining Offenses and Penalties in Rwanda, Article 143, stipulates that “Any person who performs an indecent act in public, commits an offense. Upon conviction, he/she is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than six months and not more than two years”.

The case has caused public outrage on social media with many condemning the government for violating women’s rights, while others argued for ‘more decent dressing’ in public.


“She risks 6 months to 2 years for expressing herself with her choice of clothing. If you don’t make a stand right now and fight for [her] this will be the norm going forward. Fighting for her is fighting for yourself,” Jessy Mugisha tweeted.

“This is an attempt to kill a big part of the entertainment and night economy. She is a video vixen, and she was at a concert at night. In the age of Instagram, music videos (which are shown on public TV), indecency can’t be defined this narrowly,” Gonzaga Muganwa tweeted.

“It is sad how people are fighting to dress naked in public in the name of human rights,” said Sabizeze via Twitter.

The court case comes a few days after the Rwanda National Police Spokesperson stated on national TV that it is committed to taming such indecent behaviours.

The police have since denied some women entry into public places and concerts in Kigali due to their “inappropriate dressing”.

In 2020, three women were paraded in front of the media by Rwanda Investigation Bureau after posting videos on Instagram naked. They were charged with publishing scandalous videos about sex and drug use and sentenced to 36 months in prison.