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A University Library Has Said Sorry For An "Unofficial" Flyer Warning Women Students Not To Dress “Half Naked”

The leaflet said the way women dressed was “disturbing the male students.” But a librarian told BuzzFeed News the flyer was fake.

Last updated on May 9, 2018, at 2:16 a.m. ET

Posted on May 8, 2018, at 5:11 p.m. ET

Salim Dawood / AFP / Getty Images

NAIROBI — A university library has apologized to women students after an unofficial flyer circulated on campus telling them not to dress “half naked” because it would distract their male classmates.

The notice — which appeared to have been posted across the University of Zambia’s campus on Monday — called out women who “dress half naked as they use the library, a situation which is disturbing the male students.”

The University of #Zambia has issued the following 👇🏿notice urging some female students to dress modestly in the library as their “half naked” dressing can disturb male students.

“We therefore advise the female students to dress modestly as you use university facilities. Modest is the way to go!” the flyer read.

People criticized the policy on Twitter, saying that it unfairly placed the burden on women to not bother men.

This is what's wrong with this world! This patriarchal nonsense must end - why is it always the girl/woman who has to "behave" and "follow societal norms" and NEVER the boys/men? Teach your male people, raise them better 😏

University of Zambia, I give up 🙌🏾🙌🏾!! Clearly there is no winning with this topic and males can continue to use inappropriate dressing by females as their get out of jail card for all forms of sexual harassment and assult.

When in doubt, blame the victim: Zambia library warns 'half-naked' female students

But a library staffer at the University of Zambia — the oldest and largest university in the Southern African country — confirmed to BuzzFeed News on the phone that the announcement is fake.

“Nooo, it isn’t an official notice!” the staffer said. “It didn’t come from management. We don’t know who wrote that.”

University librarian Christine Kanyengo issued a statement on Tuesday debunking the flyer, saying “we are a space that promotes access to all our library materials to people from all walks of life.”

photo courtesy of Thandiwe Nhliziyo

She went on to note that the “University of Zambia is a SECULAR institution built on the principles of diversity and cherishes academic freedom,” adding that the school has no dress code and that the library “will not tolerate old discredited misogynist views in our space.”

Thandiwe Nhliziyo, a second-year demography student at the university, told BuzzFeed News that a lot of students were outraged by the initial flyer.

“They were very upset. We don’t even dress up to go to the library, so we were wondering why people were complaining,” the 21-year-old said.

Nhliziyo said she was relieved to know the “half naked” line wasn’t real. She and the library employee both said they now believe it was posted as a joke.

“I’m just glad that it was a prank because I was feeling kind of oppressed. Like, why are they telling me how to dress to go to the library? I can go to class like this, but I can’t go the library?”

She said that regardless of what students wear to the library, everyone “should be doing what they’re supposed to do, not paying attention to what people are wearing when they're supposed to be studying.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.