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Women barred from front seat of trucks in Ugandan city

A traders association in northern Uganda has decided that women’s short skirts and bare thighs could be distracting drivers and causing accidents.

A traders association in northern Uganda has banned women from riding up front in trucks after deciding that short skirts and bare thighs could be distracting drivers and causing accidents. The order handed down in Lira city prohibits drivers from permitting “even their wives” in the front cabin of lorries. An association representing local traders and vendors said the decision banning female passengers was made in the name of safety.

“Some of them wear short dresses which expose their thighs and distract drivers, and the drivers end up causing accidents and people on board die,” Patrick Opio Obote, chairman of Lira’s mobile market vendors group, told AFP Wednesday. “The ban takes immediate effect and all drivers and passengers are complying.”

Obote said the decision was taken after examining the cause of road accidents in the area involving truck drivers.

“We discovered other than high speed and indiscipline of truck drivers, some women sit in front cabin while wearing short dresses, some take the drivers to bars and drink alcohol and the drivers end up causing accidents,” he said. 

The ban follows an accident on January 10 in which nine traders died and 20 others were injured when a truck returning from a weekly market near Lira overturned. Police blamed speed and reckless driving for the crash.

Women’s rights activist Alice Mugwanya Kabijje said the edict was unnecessary and “male chauvinism” in action.

“This is another attack on women by the officials in Lira,” Mugwanya said. “It is totally against the constitution of Uganda where exclusion of a certain gender to freely participate in the daily work is prohibited. The attribution of a dress code to a road accident is clumsy reasoning and an indicator of how a woman is still segregated in our societies and men prefer them to stay in the kitchen,” she added.

Local media quoted Uganda’s deputy director of traffic and road safety as saying Lira fell within a region with the second-highest rate of traffic accidents over the recent festive period.

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