Women are still persons even in Kenya



Last month I participated in a twitter chat on Domestic violence under the hashtag #BlackNBlue. Out of the conversations that emerged that day, I was taken aback to why women have to stay in abusive relationships.

I was reminded of the man who beat up his 26 year old wife and claimed to have immunity against the law because he worked for an international organization. Societal systems keep on encouraging such acts of impunity because some families are easily silenced by the bribes given to them by such men in form of ‘peace tokens’, after the violence on their daughters.

On most mornings, I use public transport. There is usually this FM radio  station that’s synonymous to Nairobi’s public transport. Some of the stories I hear during those short trips leave my stomach turning. One particular one had a man call in and say that women are just property to be rented out and should not have a say in their father’s property. This was during a debate sparked by an inheritance tussle involving a late man’s daughters and their step mother. I just think that the narrative that women are considered property is retrogressive.

Just thinking… Most families that do not have financial muscle, look up to the daughters to raise the status of the family. This is either from bride price or the girl’s labor. This is the reason why we see an increase in child labor. If anyone is as old as I am, I bet you came across the poem Freedom Song, Atieno Yoo by the late Marjorie Oludhe-McGoye.

Atieno washes dishes,
Atieno plucks the chicken,
Atieno gets up early,
Beds her sacks down in the kitchen,
Atieno eight years old,
Atieno yo.

Since she is my sister’s child
Atieno needs no pay.
While she works my wife can sit
Sewing every sunny day:
With her earnings I support
Atieno yo.

The world marks human rights day on 10th December, 2015 with so many strides having been achieved since its inception in 1950.

As 2015 draws to a close, I can’t avoid asking myself this question. Has the commitment to maintaining inalienable human Rights for all been fully kept? Bearing in mind the still chauvinistic line of thought in our societies. The theme “Our Rights, Our Freedoms Always” is even stamping the glaring question mark at the end of the question.

Article 7 of the Universal declaration for example states that all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. Article 5 further  states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

When thinking of the Kenyan narrative, I am reminded of the Canadian famous five– women who sought to have women legally considered persons so that women could be appointed to the Senate.

The bronze statue of the famous 5. (Women are persons), in Calgary, Alberta.
Part of the bronze monument of the famous 5 (Women are persons), in Calgary, Alberta.

The Bloggers Association of Kenya together with the Canadian Embassy will hold an event on the World Human Rights Day, 10th December, at the Nailab from 5 – 8pm.

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