Thursday, August 18, 2016

Looking over my shoulder: Is this the Kenya we want?

Looking over my shoulder: Is this the Kenya we want?

By Esther Wambui- Executive Director for YWLI

9:00pm at the office and I am so scared how I will get home. Yes I am aware of the good company taxis and label will come for me but my heart is panting I need to finish this, two more lines but the question lingering in my head is will I reach home safe? Will the driver respect me? What if I get raped or sexually harassed? Who will I tell, what will I do? What if I go to hospital and the doctor rapes me? How can I leave like this, in fear all the time? Is this the Kenya I really want? I am so disturbed.

These are some of the questions that have been lingering in my head, I see doctors in hospital I keep on thinking are they qualified? I see taxi drivers and I ask myself what if he is a rapist? It was late last year when the news of #MugoWaWairimu broke and exposed deeds done by citizen television. #MugoWaWairimu is a fake doctor who operated on a chain of clinics for women with gynecological issues. He then sedates them and rapes them. When the news broke out and YWLI together with other organizations mobilized, mass action and held a press release to seek for justice. I was outraged, I was hurt, I was frustrated and I was furious. What kind of a man is he? Then it hit me, he has been operating these unscrupulous #Prestige clinics for a long time and he was not ousted by anyone. So who is to blame?

Recently there has been so many news over the internet of young women getting killed by their spouses other pregnant women. A young woman was thrown out of the a third floor building by her spouse, she hit the electric fence and died. This is so sad I ask myself how safe am I even at home in the allegedly safest place. How sure am I that my partner will not turn into a monster and kill me? Am I really safe? Up to when should I keep on looking over my shoulders? Up to when will the justice system in Kenya make it easier for survivors of violence to get justice? Is this the Kenya I want to leave in? Is this the Kenya women want to live in? I ask myself. Is this the Kenya we want?

I was sitting on my desk and I read news just came in of an expectant 10 year old who died due to child birth complications in Kilifi County at the Coastal part of Kenya. She was allegedly raped and got pregnant and the society expects her to carry the baby to term. My colleague has a 9 year old daughter in the office who is so innocent so I imagine the late Rose* is as young as this girl in the office. Why wasn’t she saved? Weren’t there any other choices for this young girl. Who really failed her, is it parents, society, hospital and the perpetrator. Police are saying investigations are underway, now, nine months later. Where were they to get hold of the perpetrator when she got raped? Where were they? Reading comments of this article and Kenyans are asking the same questions, what happen to the perpetrator 9 months before the child went into labour, people are calling out on the government to implement existing laws. My heart is saddened, I am so hurt, outraged, frustrated and feel let down by everyone, society, the government and the justice system.

 I know I have highlighted mostly issues that make me feel unsafe and asking up to when will I look over my shoulder, up to when will the Kenyan women have to be scared every time they walk into a hospital, go to the shop, hop into a taxi or even go home. This is not the Kenya we want. The Kenya we want is that where girls are allowed to be girls and not targets for violence, not brides, a Kenya where women’s choices are upheld, where the government does not treat women as second class citizen, where women have access to affordable and quality health care. That is the Kenya I want to live in. So what can I do to change this narrative?  I can only speak out as much as I can to see the change, as I do not want my life to begin to end. 

Young Women's Leadership Institute (YWLI) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.

For more on IIE , ACE or YWLI please follow the links below.