A spate of recent attacks on women wearing pants and miniskirts has prompted Malawi's president to declare on national television that women have the right to choose their dress.
President Bingu wa Mutharika also denied Thursday that he ordered street children and vendors to attack women, who have been stripped of their pants and short skirts.
The president says, "Every woman and girl has the right to dress the way they wish."
That hasn't always been so. During the 1963-1994 dictatorship of the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda, women in Malawi were banned from wearing trousers. Banda's "indecency in dress" laws were repealed when democracy came in 1994.
Women's rights activists plan to wear pants during a protest march Friday.