Female criminals behind bars on TV are typecast as ugly, butch and foul mouthed. So it was pleasant reversal when Langata Women’s prison in Nairobi held an annual beauty pageant. The winner was stunning and a sight for sore eyes, until I looked up her back story. Two months earlier, she had been incarcerated for stabbing her boyfriend 22 times to death. A classic case of fatal attraction.
Yet, I still found myself empathising with her. Like most men, I am socialised to shower female inmates who pass for attractive with pity. Where there is clear evidence of premeditated murder, my instinct is to explain it away as a crime of passion and an act of self-defence. She must have been wronged and provoked to anger. Why else would such an angelic face deliberately dice up her lover?