Nigerian University ladies celebrate Islamic Dress

A university in Nigeria’s northern Kano state has suspended male students who harassed a female undergraduate for an outfit she was wearing.

In a viral online video, they can be seen taunting the young woman dressed in an abaya – a long loose-fitting robe often worn by Muslim women in northern Nigeria.

The Kano State University of Technology said it was shameful and said the students’ suspension would serve as a warning to others.

Seventeen male students are under investigation for their role in the incident and at least five have been suspended.

The university has also declared that the 27 May will henceforth be a designated day to celebrate the abaya and every Thursday students will be encouraged to wear one.

The female undergraduate told the BBC that it had been very upsetting: “I cried because I don’t dress indecently and the abaya covered my body properly.”

It is rare for Muslim women in northern Nigeria to be harassed for their outfits, but this incident is linked to what became known as the “Abaya Challenge” on social media, says the BBC’s Mansur Abubakar in Kano.

Ahead of Eid, some women had been saying they would be willing to do anything to be able to get a new abaya for the celebrations.

This prompted some men to mock women in abayas – sometimes shouting the word as they passed by.

In response the Abaya Challenge was born with women posting photos of their colourful abayas on social media.

The Hisbah Sharia police have also warned men that they will face arrest and prosecution if they harass women wearing an abaya.

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