I’ve been fighting the temptation to write about the issue that has been on the news and Social Media over the past couple of days. I’ve been fighting because it seems to me that the more it is talked about, the more cases there are being reported. I don’t know which is feeding the other.
The issue? Over the past week, there have been a number of cases reported in Kenya, of women being stripped naked in public because they were deemed to be dressed indecently. I use the word ‘deemed’ because this is based not on any universal code, but on the opinion of the men who are present to perform the assault. The first case was reported on Tuesday and there was actually somebody taking video because apparently, some people are just idle and unhelpful.
As you can probably tell, I have been getting increasingly angry since then; and have finally decided to write/ rant about it. Let’s start with where we are today and work our way back to that incident on Tuesday.
There is a protest organised for tomorrow 17th Nov 2014. The protest is under the slogan My Dress, My Choice. I however, think that the issue is not that the woman was dressed in a miniskirt. The bigger issue here is that a chunk of society supports the notion that sexually assault can be a tool used to teach anybody a lesson. What?!!! What is up with that? How does that logic even work? Who comes up with this stuff? I never thought a day would come where women would actually need to hold a peaceful demonstration in order to stand for their right to not be sexually assaulted. It is very sad that we have to literally reinforce a right that is as basic (it seems to me) as this.
This is why I’m going to be wearing the purple ribbon. To reinforce my right to walk in public without being sexually assaulted. And yes, when men gang up on a woman and take all her clothes off, it is sexual assault.
Second, let’s examine the supposed motive behind these acts. So you see a woman walking in town in an outfit that you deem to be indecent. Your goal is for her to stop being indecent but your recourse is to…strip her naked? I don’t buy it. If the goal was to help her, they would have given her a leso/ khanga or a coat to cover up. The motive here was not to help. It was a purely malicious and violent act.
The reason I have been getting increasingly angry is that there have been a myriad of men coming out and saying that yes, this is indeed the way that women should be treated when they wear miniskirts. Seriously?!!! This is actually what I find most disturbing about his whole saga. Well, that, and the fact that it seems to have taken on a life of its own since Tuesday.
After that first incident, there have been at least two others, probably more. The first one was sensationalized quite a bit, which I reckon is what led to others. It’s like it awoke some latent nonsensical thing that had been lying quiet. I really can’t explain it any better while in the middle of a rant.
What is the way forward? I do thank God that there have been numerous men who are condemning these acts of abuse. Let us raise our children into adults who see other people as people, and not as pieces of meat that can be abused on a whim. Let us educate our sons to treat their sisters, mothers, wives and even strangers on the street; with respect, decency and honour. Let us strive to be genuinely helpful to others; with no malice or selfish agenda.
We cannot control what other people do (e.g. wearing something that we deem inappropriate). We can however, control our reaction to it (i.e. not stripping them naked!!!!)
I salute Kilimani Mums for publicly standing up to condemn this abuse, and for organising tomorrow’s protest.