It irks me to see women being molested left right and center with no one doing anything responsive about the ill. Videos of Kenyan women being stripped of their clothes and dignity characterize our everyday social media
experience. This is not only sad but very unfortunate.
With an existing government and a working police force I always ask myself from what instance did the rain start beating us as a country. I don’t want to list us in the pariah state of nations but sorry to say, that is where we are headed. To a place where respect for a fellow human will be non existent.
Its very sad to note that as these acts of aggression continue to occur, some of us stand at the bays, watch and in unfortunate instances some of us cheer the molesters and offenders on. All of us belong to the furnace. To burn and burn beyond recognition for we have completely ignored what it is that defines our human aspect separating us from beasts and other illogical primates.
Stripping others is a form of gender violence against women and it should be rebuked in the strongest of terms. Into which pit did we throw our morals? And our voices to speak for the voiceless? Have we grown mum overnight? We may rant against these ills at the rooftops but it is high time we held those responsible for bringing these culprits to book to their word.
People keep thinking that these acts of intolerance can only affect a third persona but it is high time we changed our mode of thinking. These uncouth and barbaric acts can even affect us. I mean it can affect me or you. Think of it this way, what if it was you who was stripped? What if it was your daughter, or your sister, or your girlfriend, or your aunt, or your mother?
In the 21st century, Sexual Gender Based Violence has no place in our society.The substance and nature of SGBV can be so severe that it is a clear and unquestionable violation of the basic human rights of the victim. SGBV in its innumerable forms is a manifestation of discrimination against women and a violation of their substantive rights, including the right to life, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to be free from torture and the right to health. Meyersfeld paints a grimmer picture when she posits that:
This is the fact. Every day, throughout the world, women are subjected to extreme acts of physical violence, which take place within the beguiling safety of domesticity. The violence is severe, painful, humiliating, and debilitating. And it is common. It is a phenomenon that stretches across borders, nationalities, cultures, and race. A binding characteristic of communities throughout the world, almost without exception, is the battering of women by men. Acts of aggression against people based on their sex or their choice of clothing belongs to the same box as rape and robbery with violence. Perpetrators of these belong somewhere else…
The Kenyan constitution addresses the issue of Gender Based Se violence through the following provisions …
“Article 10 (2) (b) sets out the national values and principles of governance to include, among others, human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized. Article 19 (2) states the purpose of recognising and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as being to preserve the dignity of individuals and communities and to promote social justice and the realisation of the potential of all human beings. This general proposition is important and relevant to women’s struggle for gender equality and gender equity. Further, the Constitution imposes a positive duty on the State and all State organs to observe, respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights.
Also significant is Article 2 (5) and (6), which provides that the general rules of international law as well as any, treaty or convention ratified by Kenya form part of the law of Kenya. These two provisions may be interpreted to mean that international law becomes directly applicable by Kenyan courts, regardless of whether parliament has enacted specific implementing legislation to incorporate the international laws in question. Notable is Article 21 (4) which imposes on the State the obligation to enact and implement legislation to fulfil its international obligations in respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Besides the fundamental change that has come about with the demise of Section 82(4), the 2010 Constitution contains a very detailed clause on equality and freedom from discrimination. From a gender equality perspective, this clause is commendable on four limbs. First, it states explicitly that men and women have the right to equal treatment and equal opportunities in the ‘political, economic, cultural and social sphere’. Second, the grounds on which the state is not to discriminate are much broader than existed under the old constitution, and they include pregnancy, marital status, health status, disability and dress. Third, it is not only the state that may not discriminate- the prohibition of discrimination applies horizontally among all persons Lastly, for the first time there is constitutional provision for the principle of affirmative action, in order to ‘give full effect to the realization of the rights guaranteed under this Article’ . The Constitution therefore recognizes that in order to give full effect to the right to full equality before the law, it may be necessary to take measures to redress past patterns of discrimination, such as those that relate to gender relations.”
16 days of advocacy and activism kicked off yesterday and the whole concept is to mold a solidarity movement, a partnership between women and men based on a shared commitment to fight against persisting inequalities faced by women and girls.
It is high time we all play our various roles in ending gender based violence in whatever form. For the world to be a better place, we need to advocate not just for our own rights but also for the rights of others.