The Somali extremist group al Shabaab is publicly whipping women for wearing bras, which it says are an anti-Islamic "deception." That's the least surprising part of this news story from Reuters. More shocking is the punishment following the whippings: Forcing women to remove their brassieres and shake their breasts.
Some might ask: Don't bras offer greater modesty -- after all, they can conceal nipples and curb jiggle? But they also prop up and enhance a woman's chest. The Islamist group meting out these punishments also mandated a change to a burqa made of a stiff fabric that doesn't conform to a woman's curves.
Clearly, al Shabaab's outrage over women's underthings tracks with its general modesty initiative. What of the bra removal and jiggling of breasts, though? It might seem counter-intuitive to any modesty campaign, but such shaming is an essential part of keeping women's bodies under wraps. Forcing a woman to put on such a show in public is humiliating and reputation damaging. These are just the things al Shabaab would like to associate with women's sexuality.