Kenya: The Many Ways Kenya Proves It Hates Women

Kenya flag
25 August 2020
opinion

There is no other way to put this, other than to say it. Kenya hates women.

And while this seems like a broad, general statement, it is only so because it's true.

And it is not just adult women, but also girls.

How do I know this, you ask? There are a number of ways to tell.

For one thing, every time something is suggested to help girls, or women, someone else shuts it down. There are literally hundreds of examples of this, everywhere.

For example, when Njoki Ndung'u proposed and pushed for the Sexual Offenses Act, at great personal and professional cost, the hordes that were against her were baying for her blood - all because she wanted to make sure that when a woman or a girl is sexually assaulted, there is justice against her abuser.

And when a woman is assaulted, which happens far too often for anyone to be comfortable, men and society at large still ask stupid questions like what was she wearing.

When women took to the streets to march for My Dress My Choice, a male public figure paid for a counter march to make the women marching feel unsafe as they protested - to the point that they split the march in half to try keep safe.

When a female policy maker stands up to say anything or support anything, the 'sins' of her past or lifestyle choices are often brought to harsh and unforgiving light - regardless of the fact that male parliamentarians have the exact same, if not murkier, records.

When our legislature is debating about whether there should be a tax on sanitary products and contraceptive options, the addition of monies is automatic - unlike, say, for free government condoms.

Hostility

It feels a lot like everything that is meant for women is met with far too much hostility - again, regardless of the fact that development in a country is directly measured against how its women are doing, regardless of the fact that we are more, work more, do more and still get paid less for counted and uncounted labour, including but not limited to the mental and manual load of running households, raising children, and somehow avoiding groping hands in - let's be honest, many - workplaces, a strenuous exercise in itself.

But for me, there is nowhere more clear that we are considered second class citizens than in the corridors of power.

There is a Bill being brought forward by Senator Susan Kihika, one that has already been smeared as pro-abortion. The opposers of this proposed law claim that medical officers will be allowed to perform abortions on young girls at will. But the opposers refuse to pay attention to the important hard facts.

No sex education

One, we lack comprehensive sex education in our schools. It is immediately apparent through our children, and even in the adults who are raising them.

Simple information like, how does the reproductive system work, where can you get condoms, how are babies made - turn grown adults into stammering embarrassments. They cannot explain it to themselves, much less to the children asking these questions.

They pass the buck to teachers, who throw the ball back to parents, and the cycle of misinformation of 'uliza mama yako' and 'that's not for children' continues. This is part of the reason why, during coronavirus, rates for teenage pregnancies and assaults have shot so high across the country.

Our young girls don't know what they're doing, or they don't fully understand the consequences of their actions; and the same goes for young boys. Knowledge is supposed to empower, but these kids are walking around in the dark.

Two, our Constitution already allows for abortion. The Bill is not pushing for things that do not already exist, except for implementation of awareness and spreading of knowledge. The Constitution provides for abortion if the life of the mother is at risk.

Three, it is abhorrent to me that the people who are against this Bill are mostly people who cannot engage with it at all on a realistic and pragmatic level; people who are hampered by their sex, ignorance or misguided religion.

They are either men, who have never really had to make life changing reproductive health decisions, or pseudo-religious people who lack compassion and empathy, walking around touting abstinence as a solid and workable solution to comprehensive sexual education in, yes, 2020.

News flash, it isn't. And, it is entirely possible to have information about sex without having sex, is it not? Don't clergy supposedly do that all the time, or is that a lie too?

Reality check

We cannot continue to ignore the realities: realities like there has been a 93 percent surge in teen pregnancies. Realities like 49 percent of pregnancies in Kenya are unplanned.

Our government is not willing to plan for its people, either - it isn't like Kenya has enough food for Kenyans, or shelter, or even tests and masks for Covid-19.

Our legislature continues to ignore said realities at the peril of, largely, young women and girls.

Truth be told, abortion are actually a small part of this Bill. And here's another fact: whether abortions are legal or not, they will happen, in backstreets, across borders, through traditional means, whatever we have to do to protect our futures and take back control of what should already be intrinsically ours - our human right to decide what to do with or own uteruses, whether it is agreed on or not.

The real question is, if these people actually care about us, they should care about if we actually do it safely, in a proper health facility, or bleeding out in a back alley somewhere with no support whatsoever.

So I ask: do they actually care about the girl child, or do they care that the girl child is doing what they want?

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