Kenyan women and their allies are taking to Twitter with the hashtag #MyDressMyChoice to express outrage at a spate of recent attacks on women. The protest was organized after a woman wearing short clothing a woman was mobbed by a large group of men and stripped naked.
The awful incident was caught on video and went viral (trigger warning):
On Monday a march took place at Uhuru Park in Nairobi Kenya where women from all walks of life participated and condemned what had happened to the young woman at the Nairobi taxi rank.
Brave Kenyan women marched today and said very loudly #MyDressMyChoice. We stand with them. pic.twitter.com/PxyEmr6GAL
— Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi) November 17, 2014
Many men have argued that the women should dress “appropriately” so that men are not tempted. They believe the women deserve to be shamed.
Of course, some angry men on Twitter told the Kenyan women why “it’s not so bad” for them, and doing the (very familiar) victim-blaming and slut-shaming.:
Ladies, you think you have issues to be addressed, think again. This is a REAL issue #mydressmychoice pic.twitter.com/B7CeCH7JAO — Michael Kariuki (@myk_karish) November 18, 2014
The outcry has raised the awareness of women who were skeptical about the growing feminist movement in Kenya and other African countries. In an essay titled, “Feminists have gone too far…but we’ll go further!!!” a writer for Sunset in Africa explains her visceral reaction to the video:
All these thoughts were passing through my mind as I shelved my article for another day, when something unexpected happened. I landed upon the now infamous embassava video. I was, to say the least, horrified! Hardly had a few days elapsed before someone forwarded the video of the lady in Mombasa being stripped; in blue jeans! Let me tell you something, that video was so gruesome I cried for a whole five minutes. I shuddered as I thought of that woman, the trauma she’ll have to live with for the rest of her life. Did she have someone that night that would be there just to cry with her? Would she ever trust a man again, top of all, would she ever trust strangers again? Ever?
All that violence, all that violence! And for what? I am tired of the statement “what if it was your mother, or sister or daughter?” what happened to just respecting someone else first and foremost because they are human beings? Isn’t that reason enough anymore? What the hell is happening in this country?
When I saw that video from Mombasa, I realized it wasn’t about indecent dressing anymore. That lady was not indecently dressed. She was in a pair of jeans. They hit her, groped her breasts, and opened her legs wide (My God, MY GOD!) That was violence against women, plain and simple.
Yes, the war on women is global. and violence against women is depressingly common and universal.
Our sisters in Kenya deserve to see our support.
[Image Credit: CNN IReport]