Nearly 1,000 people stormed the streets of Nairobi Monday to protest several recent incidents of men publicly attacking women and stripping them naked for wearing a miniskirt.
Both male and female protesters -- some dressed in miniskirts -- held signs and chanted “Shame on you,” as they marched to the site of one of the attacks and then to police headquarters, demanding an end to violence against women, the BBC reported.
The mother’s group Kilimani Mums organized the demonstration after a video of one of the attacks on a busy street in Nairobi went viral on social media last week, inciting anger across the country.
Cellphone videos of two attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi show mobs of men surrounding the women, pulling off their clothes and appearing to kick them in their genital area. The men apparently thought the victims’ clothing was too revealing.
One of the protest organizers told Reuters there were 10 separate attacks across Kenya. The crowd waved banners that read "My Dress, My Choice."
"I think the reason this sparked such outrage is it was so graphic and everyone who watched it felt violated," artist Boniface Mwangi told Reuters. Mwangi -- who is male -- was wearing a short dress in support of the women.
"It could have been my wife, my daughter, my mother, " activist Mwangi added.
Deputy President William Ruto called for the arrest of the attackers, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported.
“We do not want to live in a primitive world where people do not respect the rights of others, especially the rights of children and women,” Ruto said Saturday.
Opinions on the street were mixed.
"African women are given a long list of things they need to do to earn respect, whereas men are respected just because they are men," said Ciru Muriuki, a radio producer in Nairobi.
"This is our way of saying, it's my body and I can dress it any way I see fit," she added.
But some have taken to Twitter and other social media to defend the men, using the hashtag #NudityIsNotMyChoice.
James Macharia, 26, stood watching the rally with a group of other men Monday. "An African woman should be decent," said Macharia, a student. "They are provoking us. And I think we should put in place laws to curb that."
At an opposing demonstration, about 20 men chanted "Dress up. We don't want this." Some rival protesters gathered outside police headquarters with a conservative Christian group chanting: "We are a God-fearing nation."
Police Chief David Kimaiyo has asked that the unidentified victim of the attack caught on video file an official police complaint, so the incident can be investigated.
The march was a rare public display of support for women's rights in Kenya, where sex crimes are rarely prosecuted.
The attacks recalled similar incidents in neighboring Uganda, which passed an anti-pornography law last December that was widely seen as banning short skirts.