Is public nudity a cry for freedom?


On April 9, 2012 and April 14, 2015, w o m e n in Amuru District held a nude protest against the grabbing of their farmland.

They were apparently acting in desperation at the loss of their source of livelihood.

Not so long ago, the highly publicised Dr Stella Nyanzi saga raised so much dust in the media.

She stripped naked whilst hurling obscenities that Prof Mahmood Mamdani, the dean Makerere Institute of Social Research, had blocked her out of an office to which she felt entitled and was not being listened to.

Whereas some women embrace public nudity as a powerful revolutionary tool, some schools of thought, such as the moralists, take exception.

The moralists’ view is that public nudity is outrightly immoral because it is inherently sexual and a bad precedent for the younger children.

The law terms such displays as indecent exposure and lewd behaviour as stated in the Penal Code.

We all know that the courts of law, the police and other sources of administrative authority exist to serve unbiased and equitable justice to citizens.

But what if public confidence in justice is diminishing? Does the exposure of breasts and genitalia then substitute the justice system?

The counter argument is that public nudity portrays vulnerability and strength because it is utterly disarming. 

The intent of fragility is exploited too as a strategy for social and political action. Nakedness demonstrates submission and therefore purposeful vulnerability. It is the last line of defence, despite its loss of civility.

Inasmuch as nude protests seek to serve certain purposes, they leave a lot to be desired.

As feminists strive to fight sexism, nudity succeeds in escalating patriarchal gender stereotypes.

It is certain that the intent of such protests can be misled with the notion that women can only get attention using their physicality and not the strength of their merit.

In general, swaying public attention is much harder to achieve with public nudity.

So, while it is important to desire change and be taken seriously, we need to stick to sustainable modes of protest that will not leave us emotionally spent, devoid of pride.