Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Some women are more equal in Kenya - featured on http://storymojahayfestival.com/category/conversations

It’s amazing how much outrage insulting a prominent woman generates. In the past few weeks the number of conspicuous women who have been attacked by first equally conspicuous men and then later a Senator and lastly a Governor cause such uproar that you would imagine the feminist movement was alive and thriving in Kenya.

If, in its most basic and simplest definition, feminism means that women are equally human as men; then some women apparently are more human than other women. A female politician barges into the Nairobi Governor’s office with protestors and during the confrontation, he slaps her. Instant OUTRAGE, #Kideromeltdown.

Two days prior to that incident, the same female politician leads calls for Kenya to withdraw from the Rome Treaty and rants about how “Witnesses were coached” in complete disregard for the hundreds of  women who were victims of extreme violence including rape. Not a SQUEAK. On Thursday, house majority MPs went so far as to accuse civil society and the victims represented at the ICC of FRAUD. No one remembered that those victims also included women, who were brutalized and whose lives were destroyed.

Maybe, it’s the fact she was slapped. Oh wait, this same week, a woman in labor was forced to give birth on the floor of Bungoma District Hospital and the FEMALE nurses slapped her for messing up the floor. Outrage? No. There was no #Bungomanursemeltdown. There was no avid banter on how the mother may have deserved being slapped coz she messed the floor. There were certainly no demands that the nurses or even the MOH of Bungoma District Hospital be fired for slapping her.

Some women are certainly more equal than others. It’s not getting slapped that gets you attention round here it’s who you are when you are slapped.

For some perverse reason I am supposed to relate with this female politician because we both have female genitalia. She certainly doesn’t remember what’s underneath my skirt when she denounces the only court that has attempted to prosecute ANYONE for charges pertaining to rape. Hell, in the whole of Kenya not a single PEV rapist has even seen the inside of a jail. The Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Keriako Tobiko admits that he has at least 5000 cases related to the post election violence yet to be prosecuted. Thus far, only 2 suspects locally have faced prosecution and conviction in murder trials related to the PEV. 

More than 5 years later, how many rape victims are likely to see any sort of justice? Aren’t those victims, some of whom are right now raising the offspring from that crime also female?

What does feminism mean anyway, in Kenya? Is it the meaningless Gender AGENDA activism that demands 1/3 of elected and constitutional posts be filled with women for the sake of them being women regardless of how competent they are for that position? Now that we gave those many posts to women, how many of those women stood up in parliament on Thursday to remind the house majority that the women who were victims of violence are not fraudsters?

A female politician is slapped and I am supposed to care because I have female genitalia as well. Audrey Mbugua identifies as female too, why are we not outraged that her much needed gender re-assignment surgery has been denied and yet this is a procedure done in Kenya ever since the 80s? Will we be outraged if she is insulted only AFTER she gets the right genitals?

Looks like its only genitalia that I am supposed to have in common with these female politicians. So since the poor man also has male genitalia like the politicians when he is forced to pay tax amounting to about 46% of his income and the politicians are NOT paying any taxes, does he feel like the man’s brother? Apparently they feel like they are members of the same fraternity such that when a female politician is slapped by the Nairobi Governor that poor man burdened by tax immediately says, “women should not provoke men.”

This is the result of a society that simply thinks with its nether regions. We only value people for what they can do with their genitalia; GENDER is defined by what you were born with in between your legs. So no matter what the level of injustice is and no matter who is perpetrating the evil, we all must relate with that person based on what we assume they also have between their legs.

That’s why Audrey Mbugua has no fem-Nazis online championing her cause, because she was born with the wrong genitalia.  Women thus refuse to recognize her as female as well, men think that it’s up to them to heap insults on her for having gender identity dysphoria.

Hypocrisy is when a women’s representative decries the International Criminal Court because she supports the suspects and yet she represents the victims in the County Assembly!
Kenya, and its erstwhile legislature and failed judicial system, is as far away from an equal society as it can possibly get, and please let us not talk about feminism here. 

We only take prominent women seriously. The ordinary woman should expect to remain sub-human. That’s why you can feel outraged that a prominent woman is insulted but heap insults and “slut shame” 11 girls accused of making porn with a dog, even THOUGH the media lied about the “crime.” 

We keep saying that Kenya is lucky not to have gone the Rwandan genocide route. Well, in 19 years since the horrific war, the Rwandan government has co-operated with the international community, has actively participated in the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and in addition has prosecuted thousands of cases in local trials conducted in “Gachacha” courts as well as in the Judiciary. Rwanda took feminism seriously, knowing full well how fractured the society was, especially because the women and children were the greatest victims of atrocity. 

It took the trial and conviction of a female suspect of crimes against humanity at the ICTR for the world to know that even WOMEN can be tried and found guilty of war crimes such as rape. Kenya will only be as progressed as Rwanda as a society and nation when crimes pertaining to conflict and violence are taken as seriously.

When our female political representatives are as vocal against the course of justice as the men, regardless of the fact that women were victims of crimes, and in total disregard for their constituents that is MISOGYNY, not feminism.  You cannot possibly expect me to relate with a female that hates me for my genitalia simply because she also has the same genitalia.  We may both be female, but we certainly are not the same kind of woman.


  1. And remember that there was a lady cop who was assaulted by a Member of Parliament... No feminists came up... Double standards..

  2. *sigh* I dont even know where to start. As a feminist activist who has been fighting for women's rights since I was a teenager, I feel I MUST say something. Dear Betty, thank you for taking the time to reflect on this issue and write about it. Now PLEASE take some time to reflect on what I am about to say. The #KideroMUSTGO campaign is MUCH BIGGER than either Kidero or Shebesh! It is about ALL the Kideros in Kenya, men who at ine point or another feel justified to use violence against a woman they believe is out of line. Whether it is because the ugali she cooked for her husband is not hot enough, or the skirt she wore demanded that she be raped. And if you actually took the time to learn about all the incredible work women's rights organizations in Kenya do EVERY DAY with the women whose stories dont make the news, you would understand this. IT IS NOT THAT WE ARENT MAKING NOISE about the Bungoma woman, or 22 yr old Rose Mukoko who was stabbed to death last Sunday because her husband was tired of her earning more money than her. IT IS BECAUSE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN HAS BEEN SO NORMALIZED THAT NOBODY CARES OR LISTENS WHEN WE SHARE THESE STORIES!!! The only reason why we are getting ANY air time with this campaign WHICH IS ABOUT ENDING VAW FOR ALL WOMEN IN KENYA, is because this particular incedent was caught on national tv and involved our governor and women's rep. Had it been some random man caught on tape hitting some non-descript woman, NO AMOUNT OF NOISE WE MADE WOULD HAVE GAINED ANY TRACTION! That is PRECISELY THE POINT BETTY! VAW HAS BEEN NORMALIZED!!

    And as for Audrey's story, you are only hearing about it now that it made national news. Where were you when we were trying to get Audrey all the support she needed for her surgery 3 years ago? Tgings went horribly wrong when the Director of KNH found out the surgery was taking place and he shut the whole thing down. But the media didm't care then. So if you depend on mainstream media to inform you about what the feminist or women's rights movement is doing about anything in Kenya, let me be the one to tell you that you will never know. Unfortunately WE DONT OWN THE MEDIA!

    But I invite you to use your platforms to keep writing about these issues. 1 reader at a time we will change people's behaviour. And please take some time to meet different organizations. If the work any of them does inspires you, volunteer to support them. Write the women's stories. Dont wait for another "Shebesh" to be slapped on tv. The reason why we are being so vocal right now is because this is a defining moment in our herstory my dear. All the gains we have made in the past 5 decades could easily be reversed by this one incident. How the hell are we to convince Wanjiku or Chebet to report her "small" case to the police when she has seen that even a "Shebesh" can be beaten and NOTHING is done. Cant you connect the dots? This is about you and me! This is about ending the wars that are fought on women's bodies. Join #1BillionRising to end #VAW or play your part in ypur own way to end these wars. I pray you will write another, better informed piece after you have taken some time to reflect. All the best in your journey. Peace and Blessings. @ZawadiN

  3. Finally, all the tears I have shed this week have been for those "less equal" women you are talking about. That is the pain we feminist activists carry every day. I have not shed a single tear for Shebesh. She will be just fine. It is all the misogynistic men watching that incident that I fear. I worry for all the women in their lives. We have already started receiving reports of cases that will NEVER make the news. So if you have any influence in the media, maybe even have shares and can buy permanent slots to share these stories every day till the violence stops, BY ALL MEANS PLEASE HELP!!!! THANK YOU!