Rape and the Status of Women in Kenyan Society

Kenyans on social media expressed their outrage at the alleged rape of a former journalist by Gideon Mwiti, a sitting MP. The Imenti Central MP stands accused of committing the act at the Tana Club on March 21. The public outcry against this gross violation was nowhere near the uproar expressed during the #MyDressMyChoice campaign, but it was divisive as with all issues in Kenya. On one hand, we have people claiming that she is partly to blame for what may have happened because she entertained the notion of meeting the MP at such a late hour. Some even go as far as saying that perhaps it is a case of a ‘lovers quarrel’ gone wrong. On the other hand, we have those who are vehemently behind her arguing that rape is rape regardless of the circumstances including the hour. What do you think?

I would suggest that we look at both sides of the argument assuming the worst in each case. Let us assume that some women are ratchet regardless of social status and their behavior may invite some vices. What causes this mannerism? Is it innate or learned? Likewise, let us adopt the position that rape is independent of such conduct. In this case, even women who are not ratchet are in danger of falling victim to the same vice. Who should protect these women? What would cause rape if not ratchet behavior by our women? It is likely that this behavior in women stems from their environment, and that rape has nothing to do with it. Women should also be ready to admit that they are responsible for their security at a personal level though the state is ultimately responsible for their collective safety.

What is a ratchet? It is a mechanical tool used in handy work. It has no independence or sense of self and likewise, a woman without a sense of self or autonomy used for the pleasure of men is ratchet. Such women exist in our society though we do not like admitting it. For example, Vera Sidika’s body physique is a matter of sensational public inquiry simply because men love ogling at her leave alone what she does behind closed doors. The media is awash with curvy TV presenters who feed into the need for our male-dominated society to watch something entertaining to compliment the usual political theatrics reported at news hour. I am not saying that these women are ratchet specifically. I am stating that they exist with deliberately accentuated physiques in the form of dressing for our entertainment. They have no choice but to appear curvy lest they lose their public appeal though they think they do. Now re-read the definition of ratchet above and then let me know what you think?

Here is some more insight into the ratchet-like behavior of some Kenyan women. A recent poll by IPSOS, commissioned by The Nairobian, found that 79% of the women surveyed were dating a married man. It also established that 85% of those dating men promised to another were doing it for financial support. These statistics, though questionable in terms of its methodology, offer some insight into the moral state of our society. Our women are increasingly materialistic, or their display of materialism is on the rise. The Imenti MP is simply a projection of a reaction to this money-oriented behavior by men in Kenya. Most men know that women could not care less about their marital status. It is all about the money, but in some cases, the exchange is never complete. Some men would feel cheated and as such, they now try to get their due before the women get theirs. Some would do so by force if necessary. Exchange is no robbery, is it?

We (Kenyans) may disagree on who is at fault or partly at fault for what allegedly transpired, but one fact is inarguable. There was a display of ratchet behavior in this situation. Why would a 29-year old married woman meet with a married man in the late hours of the night? I believe the journalist caused the MP to believe that he would receive something outside the limits of a contract deal. However, the display of unbecoming behavior does not stop with her. Why would the husband allow the wife to be outside their home at such a late hour? Why would the MP, a husband, and father, be meeting with any woman at such a time? These people should be at home after dusk, taking care of their children. Why do they have families if they cannot spend time with them? It is clear that these people have more than what most Kenyans have. They are only searching for auxiliary wealth. Somebody yell vanity and with it, comes the price of good intentions and so, falling victim to vices is only a matter of time for any of them.

Behavior in people results from their environment and ratchet conduct is not an exception. Parenting is the most significant factor when it comes to the character and personality of a child. A woman who grows up in an environment where love, care and active involvement by a male father figure are absent is likely to become ratchet. Her sense of self is weak as is her idea of constructive interaction with the opposite sex. A study of 20,000 kindergarten kids in the US revealed that 89% of black and 73% of Asian parents spanked their children. Black parents defend spanking saying that it disciplines a child. This defense is ironic because blacks committed 50% of all the murders in the US from 1976 to 2005. Asian kids also do better than blacks do in education, employment, and business. Here are some other statistics. Babies from unmarried mothers account for 72% of all black children born. It is also true that blacks represent 44% of all new HIV infections among adolescents and adults despite being not more than 15% of the US population. Can you connect the dots?

Are Kenyan women really ratchet? No, but a few of them cause such an impact that a generalization of all Kenyan women seems possible. For instance, imagine a dozen schools striking at the same time within the same county. It would feel as though all the schools in the county were on strike. The same case applies here. The impact of one ratchet woman is devastating. It overshadows many respectable women in society. If this unbecoming conduct leads to rape, then only the ratchets should suffer from it, but that is not the case. Stories in the media about the sexual abuse of the elderly or minors are too frequent. The rape of decently dressed or well-mannered women is also the norm, not the exception. Remember, most rapists are people the victims already know except in conflict situations and, in either case, most rape cases go unreported. Another question, why are some prostitutes victims of sexual abuse as well. Yes, it happens. They get beat up, abused and sexually violated, but who will believe them right? Why not pay for the product and then walk away? It is a simple exchange, is it not?

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” – John Dalberg. The Imenti MP gets away with everything. He stood accused of fleecing $780 million from unsuspecting Kenyans yet he is still free. Here is a case where his power means nothing if the allegation is true. He feels powerless as his money, political theatrics and ‘charms’ cannot suffice. How can a feeble female creäture decide such a pleasurable outcome for him when he cannot? He can easily get it or buy it from other quarters. It is about her. Who is she to deny him? What can he do to restore his power? He takes it, by force, and the media hype around him adds to his triumph. Her behavior is irrelevant. So many women behave more crudely than she could have when around such wealthy men. When it became about her, it was about her. The assumption here is that the allegation is true.

Ratchet behavior is not a license to rape a woman. Similarly, insincere speech is not a license to murder politicians. People primarily rape or sodomize as a show of power, not as an urge to fulfill sexual desires. Those who want power will take it in whatever form at the earliest opportunity and then use excuses to justify their actions. We must not let it happen. The late hour meeting was not a coincidence. It was a setup. Her credibility went out the window as soon as the public heard about the timing of the meeting. A calculated move that had the intended effect and that is why we have a government. The government needs to protect those who garner low levels of sympathy from the public. It should check facts regardless of personal behavior. It must be a bedrock of justice when society becomes a lynch mob based on subjective moral standards. Will it become such an entity? It should, but I do not think it will?

Did you learn anything from this article? If so, share it with a friend, post it on your blog or speak its message to others. Change starts with you and me.


Speak your mind. Leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s