It is hard being a victim in Kenya. People are wired to distrust the ‘victim’ tag and only the victims that shout loudest gets a second glance. Rallying justice for victims is a long shot and an exercise in extreme patience and tenacity. Therefore most Kenyans have learnt to take full responsibility for all the misfortune that they encounter. It is a coping mechanism when no one believes the victims’ side of the story.
Victim shaming is quite commonplace. It seems easier to assume the victim was bad and attracted their misfortune. We prefer to stigmatize the victim than acknowledge the suffering. Women in this country are particularly having it bad and men cannot just keep explaining the victim’s plight away.
A woman gets assaulted and stripped while dressed in jeans, in a public bus park, in broad day light in front of onlookers. The male reaction. “Sorry and I do not advocate women getting assaulted but some women should also learn to dress decently”. The victim was actually decently dressed and the said jeans were not even a tight fit. “Sorry that these touts are ill mannered but some people just like asking for trouble. What was she doing there in the first place?” A group of concerned women call for a demonstration to protest the act of gender violence on an innocent citizen by a gang of unruly men. “Sorry that some men cannot control themselves but why haven’t they shown solitary with the women who undergo FGM and walked in the streets for them?” The turn out to the street protest is large and the issues get good press coverage. “The press is biased. Why don’t they highlight the plight of the women in Mathare?” The press did last month. “Well, I am not a classist but these are just rich idle moms looking for attention because they cannot find men to marry”. There were also men in the protest, many husbands, who joined in solitary with the issue. “I am not a tribalist but real men from my community would not walk over a skirt issue”. Social commentators say, the root causes point to the broken family unit and absentee fathers. “I am not saying men are not guilty but all these single mothers should also accept that they cannot teach boys how to be men”.
My basic analysis of male responses during #MyDressMyChoice demonstration is that a frightening large number of men in Kenya do not understand the gravity of sexual assault, rape or battery. Sex education should be introduced in school if for nothing else but to teach the meaning of consent and assault.
Masculinity is not a power trip. Mature men who know better, have to start mentoring youth in their spaces. Offering good advice and providing solid examples. These chest thumping gorillas masquerading as real men have to be put in check. To my younger brothers, forget all this real men bravado and start by being a decent guy. Showing compassion will not diminish your manliness. This whole idea that you are justified to adapt bad behaviour because others are behaving badly is rather warped. There is the right way and the wrong way. The right way is lonely but take it anyway. You will be the better for it.
#MYDressMYChoice is not about short skirts or threatened masculinity. It is about dignity and respect for women. Period. Sexual assault is simply unbridled hate and gender prejudice and it must be rejected by all right thinking men. When we hurt our women, we hurt ourselves.
13 thoughts on “Wanted! An Innocent Victim Whose Side Of The Story Can Be Trusted.”
I agree with you on this. I did not think the stripping was about what the ladies were wearing but more about power, control and a bit of ego? In the first case, I heard that the lady talked back to the touts, so they had to find a way to put her back in her place . . . how dare she talk back. Then there different groups trying to advocate against such behavior, but there was always someone (male and female) adding a “but” . . . but she should not have talked back . . . but you should dress for where you are going . . . but we should stick to our african cultures . . . but who are these Kilimani moms . . . but . . . . In the end, I have not seen anything that has been done to deter such behavior. I think you are right that mentoring is what is needed so that we don’t have to wait for laws to govern us but we will know the right way to treat others
Very well said, OP. Remember as we all lecture our men to ‘man up’ and mentor the young generation of males, a tragedy has been unfolding that society has either totally refused to acknowledge or simply sidelined as a non-issue. The forgotten Boy Child.
Yes, I said it. The hapless, clueless boy child who is a by product of the girl child getting too much attention for the last three decades. The stampede to give equal rights (some more equal) has given rise to a monster that our society continues to ignore. We are sitting on a time bomb. I do not want to imagine what will happen when the full effect of this bomb catapults. Then y’all will remember this post. By extension, the Kenyan male is slowly but surely ceding rights as head of the family to the now extremely headstrong and empowered Kenyan Female. Why this state of affairs? Could it be that the women’s lib brigade ran our men out of town? Pray tell, which sociologist among us will dissect this imbalance that is unfolding?
We lost the boy child eons ago. For this our leaders, clergy, child psychologists, psychiatrist are collectively guilty.
We all have a responsibility to rescue the boy child NOW. Male, Female, Angry Feminist, Parent, Teacher. You name it. It does not matter. We the citizens must confront the injustices that continue to be visited on the Boy Child. We must also confront the fact that the male is under siege in our beloved country.
my friend, you are a big part of the problem. Remember where the girl child was 3 decades ago. In some places she still has a long way to go. Yes, the boy child is not doing well. It is not the girl child’s fault. Do what the women’s lib did, you. Mobilize for the boy child, You, make the programs the boy child needs. You do it. That is what people in the women’s lib did. Do not try to take their hard work down, or you will make this an us vs. them thing, and best believe, in the same way that male allies have been good for the women’s lib, even what OP is saying here re: #Mydressmychoice, you will need women to help men work on the boy child, but if you make women choose between the girl child and the boy child, you may just find her choosing the girl child. And you will not like it.
In the spirit of generosity, however, I’m going to tell you what some organizations are doing. Have you heard of KCDF’s MenTenda campaign? You can contribute to the development of the boy child with them. You cannot tear down a house to build another. Go make fresh bricks, friend.
Its funny the above comment by sarah saying “but we should stick to our african cultures”… then go back to skins and being naked.. retired from using your fones… retired from stayin in a stone house or an apartment.. stay in the jungle… You cant say lets stick to our african cultures when everyone else is digitalised and cant live without a phone or a internet or dare i say FB? Everyone should mind their own business.. Thats what i always thought Nairobians are.. nobody cared if you got thuged why care what another is wearing??
Please read again what Sarah said. It seems you were in a hurry and just skimmed because your point is completely opposite.
Well said Oyunga!
When’s the last time you heard someone say to a robbery victim “Well, if you didn’t have phone X or drive car Y or live in neighbourhood Z, you wouldn’t have been robbed?
Jim, when I read your comment, my first reaction was – that’s a ‘yes -but’ comment. Now I agree with you. What disturbs me is this: has the deprived lost boy child become so rudderless that they’re resorting to what I can only see as primal depravity to make their presence felt?
It would be so easy to leave that observation hanging as an excuse if we as parents don’t step up and parent up.
I’ve always wondered, what are mothers/ladies telling their daughters/ younger ladies, that fathers/men aren’t telling their sons /younger men?
well said pala…….the beast in these men must checked and stopped now;once and for all before hell get loose..these is more than just stripping women i suppose but but about society which is decaying slowly.these men strippers arecconfused and challenged men who exert their frustration on women who are less physically strong as them..it must contained now be it escalates
@Jim I concur with you 100%. I know of male friends who lost out on opportunities because they were men. To date, they resent women and at the slightest provocation I doubt that they will hesttate to get physical. Women empowerment or is it affirmative action was and is being implemented without due condideration of the existing social & cultural diversity. And yes- eomen should also learn to dress within context. In the middle east even most seasoned journalists have learnt to dress appropriately whenever they cover news. I saw yhe video of the demonstrators & honestly done were a disgrace. In 1990 my wife returned from the US after her PhD. I immediately got concerned with her clothes on which we quarreled often. She got a wake up call during a stakeholders meeting at a remote village. An elderly woman offered her a “leso” to cover her legs. My wife revamped her wardrobe and weve never had issues. We have also groomed our daughter to dress accordingly. Lets Be realistic!
Fair point Jay but the issue is not about choice of dress even as the debate got stuck around skirt length. If you critically read the news reports, even appropriately dressed women with covered legs have been assaulted. We are talking about pure criminality masquerading as moral policing. This is the issue here.
Jay as a woman I have been sexually harassed before and yes I was as most Kenyans obsessively keep referring to,’decently dressed’. It’s not about dressing but using what women wear as an excuse to assault them
Right on point! There is a lot of “but” nonsense going around where victims are concerned- it just isn’t on! The President belted it out of the park (infamously) when he asked yesterday- in reference to a 3 year old who was raped by uncles in the household- where the mother was when this was happening? Really? Trying to put that on the mother? It was the most out of touch balderdash I have heard in a long time and you know those come thick and fast in Kenya. We some serious social re-engineering..
@Jim- I beg to disagree. What are these distinct disadvantages that the boy child has come to as a result of this supposed focus on the girl child for the last three decades? What neglect? This is a common counter-narrative that is not borne out in fact. Girls were woefully behind- think university admissions, job opportunities, proportion of women in high salary bands, women in leadership.. what effort has been made has only narrowed the gap in some of these things but by no means eliminated them. Sure more girls than used to be are in uni and all that, but the fact that we struggled to meet the 1/3 constitutional gender threshold for many public institutions, etc should tell you something. The educated elite spewing filth on social media about the stripping and assault of women haven’t had their chances “stolen” by women by any stretch of the imagination.
Oyunga Pala has made a very important point that this is more of criminals wanting to prove that they have power over women.
I also believe that the boy child is not being sidelined. It’s more a case of not being guided and mentored properly. It is very disturbing to find that a lot of men these days expect to be fed by a woman and when I mean fed, I mean he does nothing but wait for his wife’s pay check. Lest I seem like I’m preaching, men need to rise up and encourage their own kind. To school them on what “real” men do.
These chest thumping gorillas masquerading as real men have to be put in check:…. OP, spot on!!!