How women’s clothes became the first line of defence for protesters in Myanmar

  • Protesters are stringing up women's clothing on lines across the streets of Myanmar to utilise a superstition in their favour.
Protesters make a barricade across a road with longyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon.(AFP)
Protesters make a barricade across a road with longyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon.(AFP)
Published on Mar 07, 2021 08:40 PM IST
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By | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, New Delhi

Several photographs from multiple protest sites in Myanmar have made their way to social media in which pro-democracy demonstrators can be seen using women’s clothes as the first line of defence. Protesters are stringing up women's clothing on lines across the streets to utilise a superstition in their favour.

In Myanmar, walking beneath wraparound clothes for women, known as longyi, is traditionally considered bad luck for men. In the photographs and videos circulating on social media, police can be seen taking down the lines of clothes before crossing them.

Sometimes, protesters use women's undergarments as well to slow down the soldiers and police.(Twitter)
Sometimes, protesters use women's undergarments as well to slow down the soldiers and police.(Twitter)


A 20-year-old unnamed protester told news agency Reuters that the younger generation doesn't believe it anymore, but the soldiers still do. The protester said this weakness of soldiers might give more time to run if they charge towards demonstrators. Sometimes, protesters use women's undergarments as well to slow them down.

“Women’s longyi and undergarments barricades that Myanmar protesters put up as a non-violent defense tool against police & soldiers who mostly and superstitiously believe that their “phoun” (loosely translated as men’s glory or virtue) will be gone,” tweeted a user with photographs of clothesline.


The military coup to oust Myanmar’s elected leaders, including state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians, followed demonstrations across the country and subsequent crackdown. Dozens of anti-coup protesters have died during the demonstrations as reports suggest that police and soldiers are shooting to kill. Myanmar has also been witnessing frequent internet shutdowns as the security forces are trying to quell the protests.

According to the United Nations, Myanmar’s security forces have killed more than 50 people to clamp down the daily demonstrations and strikes in the Southeast Asian nation since the military coup. An official from Suu Kyi’s party died overnight in police custody, reported Reuters on Sunday. Ten of thousands of protesters were back on the streets of Myanmar despite raids conducted by security forces on opposition leaders and activists on Saturday night.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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