Have some Kenyan men refused to evolve? I hope not and it’s not fair to generalize in that broad manner but the recent incidents in the streets of Nairobi where a growing number of Kenyan women have been violently stripped and sexually assaulted by a gang of males did bring doubt to my mind regarding how far Kenyan men have evolved!
I am an African woman, I have been raised to be respectful to other people, have self-respect and act as a role model towards my younger sisters and my children. In the last 60 years Kenyan society has changed so much and overall to the better though we still struggle with corrupt politicians, inequality, poverty and tribalism. We have managed to gain independence and we pride ourselves for being a power source/locomotive in our region leading the way when it comes to economic growth, creating a modern society and a democracy that is actually functioning and growing stronger every day. Then why is it that some men in the 22nd century believe that undressing a woman in full daylight and worse still, sexually abuse her is perfectly all right?
My first impulse when I heard about the incident was utter disgust and angered sadness then when thinking about it I started to ask questions because we cannot change fundamental wrongs without trying to work out what the cause is in the first place.
A word that is thrown around is indecent. But in a democratic society doesn’t make sense unless you want to violate the concept of freedom of speech and the right to express yourself. Unless you have a group of people (men) who have constitutional right to exercise over another group of people (women) last time I checked men and women are equals and both have the right to vote. Which means that men cannot deem a woman indecent based on her dressing as long as vital “indecent” body parts remain covered. When men fool themselves to believe they have every right to exercise that kind of power they actually show that they are living in the past and more or less share the same views on women and their sex(uality) that are more common in a fundamentalistic Islamic state it has nothing to do with modern societies.
Some men with whom I’ve spoken to about this incident all with good jobs well into their middle age all mentioned that a woman in a mini arouses them by the mere look. This argument is so flawed that it’s almost hysterical and when you follow the logic or rather lack of then it speaks volumes about males simply being incapable of self-control and being so out of touch with their own sexual desires that a woman can cause such a friction. It also have more to do with fears and anxieties turned outward towards women that actually handling and its always easier to set someone else straight than bringing balance into your own chaos. Then there is not a long way from such thinking to actually do something harmful toward someone else that seems to trigger that inner unbalance.
A wise man has once said: Hatred is a statement that leads to the extinction of values.
So there is much more at stake here than certain pitiful men who seem hell bend to attack women who somehow manage to arouse them. We are talking civil rights here, we are talking equal rights between men and woman something that still has a long way to go apparently but that doesn’t change the fact that if we gave way to such actions and don’t respond to them in a proper manner then all the values related to being a democracy with a modern mind set in terms of true tolerance and equality of the sexes that can push the society ever forward will be lost.
So when the streets of Nairobi were filled by women and some male sympathisers in the protest “My dress my choice” which pulled a large audience and attracted international media from Europe to USA, we were not only exercising our constitutional rights but fighting any of those – isms that at their roots are related: racism, chauvinism and sexism. All of those share an ignorance that give birth to ill-fated stereotypes and notions that one group of people either gifted by ethnical background or having the right sex is superior in moral and intelligence among other virtues than enables them to rule and educate the inferior part. We need to be aware of those –isms and literally “fight” them in the streets whenever any of those isms raise their ugly ignorant head and boot them back to the past where they rightfully belong!
What form of justice would heal this lifetime psychological torture, embarrassment, shame of being publicly stripped nude for the whole world to see, mental state and dignity grabbed from these women?
“I think the devil doesn’t exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.”- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
“Everything is permitted…”- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov