My Rights are Her Rights

I write this after a disturbing facebook encounter. A male friend posted a comment on a recent court ruling that sentenced a man accused of sexual abuse and robbery with violence to death. My friend’s post was that the sentence given was too harsh for a stripping incident, but I am rushing let me start from the beginning.

In November several women were stripped of their clothing in Nairobi for “dressing indecently”. The logic behind the stripping is that if they want to walk around naked they should go the whole hog. These incidents occurred in public places which included bus stops and inside public transport vehicles. Other than the shame of being undressed in public these women were sexually molested by their assailants robbed of their belongings and to make it worse some were filmed and their ordeals shared on social media for the rest of the World to see.

When this story broke I was uninterested because like a few others in Nairobi I am irked by the lack of dress propriety in some women I encounter on the streets I walk on daily. This position changed when I watched one of the videos that circulated. I was shocked, embarrassed and angered that this could happen on the pavements I walk on, in front of the building I identify with as home. The familiarity of the situation really hit me, and I thought Christ! that could have been me. So I mulled over it filling my self up with bile and contempt as I listened to social debate on who was to blame. Soon enough just like it is with every emotional experience the intensity of my feelings died down and life moved on. I was glad when the court ruling found the men responsible guilty and gave them the toughest sentencing the law permitted. I was glad because if anything this would deter the weirdos Nairobi has in plenty from molesting me or my sisters cousins and neighbours, but my bubble was burst when I read my friend’s facebook post this morning.

Maybe as a man he doesn't understand what it means and feels like to be a Woman, to hear that crimes against women don't deserve the harsher side of the law. But that’s him I guess, his logic and his reasoning is different from mine. I understand that he was born and raised a man, free from the struggles of womanhood.

I am a Woman its plain for all to see, I get a period, I have boobs, estrogen and from time to time I wear a dress. What the male population does not see is the other side to my womanhood. The struggle to maintain female dignity to be feminine and feminist to hurt at the injustice my sex endures, the sadness I feel that the men in my life do not understand the struggle women fight internally and externally to just simply be.

Inspite of the sadness and anger this strpping incident has elicited in me I am happy my friend shared his thoughts and that I read it because it helped me realize that I am a woman in love with WOMAN. That I cannot keep quiet when a fellow woman is assaulted with the basis of her ‘crime’ being her gender. When she cries my eyes burn too, when she is wounded I shall feel the pain like it was my own, but if she hides I shall not hide because we can't all hide away some of us should be bold enough to do something, even if its just to tell our friends that stripping, robbing and molesting women deserves harshness from the law and I am glad these defilers are facing a minimum sentence of life in prison.

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