6 days To Go!!!

Let’s go people let’s go!!! It’s high time I used my cheer-leading ish ish in my writing; though I was better at it back in high school. Here is why I’m so jumpy today; someone somewhere thought it was a good idea to petition, and I am not talking about the political hubbub going on in our nation and the globe at large, though I must say I am embarrassed by some so-called ‘learned friends’; but that of revolving oppression into something beneficial for women all over; to raise an awareness of issues faced by women and more so, to empower women to do better and feel worthy as God’s creation.
Let me bring this closer to our individualistic aspect of life. If your father was the bread winner of the family and his mshahara was too little to sustain all of you, what would be the best decision to make; have you and your siblings drop out of school to work or have your mother help by getting a job? Or the issue of education where resources are limited in spite of the free primary education programme by the government and failure to go for classes because of that “time of the month”. My point is we need our media houses to draw attention to issues women face, be it education, sexual and gender based violence, reproductive health, economic empowerment, maternal health and also child health, not forgetting the steps taken by Kenyans and others worldwide.
Last year, only 4% (16 hours) of news airtime was set aside for news and stories related to us. Honestly, that is not enough yet politicians and even the Government have used this growing mode of communication in absurd ways; like making a fuss on expensive wheelbarrows when the money used could actually…. I lack words to finish that sentence but you do get my point right? Why not highlight new narratives that will empower and educate people, to eventually have a larger number of courageous men and women working together to bring positive change to our lives as Kenya’s women and girls; the future Wangari Maathai, Margaret Kenyatta and so on.

#TellOursStory and Wezesha Dada
#TellOursStory and Wezesha Dada
It is for this reason that we need 577 more signatures on this petition where we ask Kenya’s media to #TellOurStory (#WezeshaDada) by bestowing five more minutes of media scope every week to converse on matters of concern affecting women and girls. I wouldn’t want someone else telling my story, I mean someone from India, Somalia etc. I want US to tell it as it is. So join in the petition . Be part of the solution

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Healthy Hair: Long or Short?

Don’t be dazzled by this post, but I think it is something to point out. Want to know why? Well in many cultures it is believed that hair embraces the power of a woman. Up to date, a woman’s hair is described as a symbol of beauty and a figurative statement of power, truth and higher mind. Long hair has always carried a specific importance in the life of many; the epitome of a woman. Religiously, the history of hair goes back, way back to the Bible and beyond. Archaically, women used to shave their heads when their husbands died, like in the case of the Late Kijana Wamalwa. To our other religious brothers and sisters, Lord Shiva had long hair and the sacred Ganga was a product of these long hairs. Prophet Mohammad, Jesus Christ, the 10 gurus of Sikhism and the jogis in Hinduism, all had long hair and beard that was retained as uncut.

There is this thing about women and long hair; recognition of perfection. Some base this on the traditional and religious ideologies, that women should not cut their tresses, not even a single strand.  In these contemporary days, the trend of short hair has impinged on this tradition. As women, we tend to fuss over our hair more than we actually like to admit it. You think I’m lying? Okay Remember your golden days when mama would struggle to make sure that her princess had her hair maintained and show off to her friends whose daughter’s hair just looked like a bunny’s tail?. What about Vera Sidika. Our very own socialite. She looks good, always, and really spends to gain that look. This woman can spend more than Kshs 300,000 on her hair, but I get a chill when my hair dresser, Johnny, goes like “Pay up girl. It’s only 1500 bob”. Like maaaan!!! Really? To Vera, looking that good, in spite of the charges, matters a lot. It reminds her of her physical attraction, and gives her confidence when it looks vibrant. Contrary to her aesthetical well-being, there also is this specific lady that brightness my thoughts and perspective on all this. One Huddah Monroe. Girl can shake what her mama bestowed on her. My point is, she now has SHORT hair. It feels amazing to actually write that. And she is really killing the look with her beauty. These two are on the same social level; both rock their looks, and still appear powerful and influential in their own way.

Now let’s go a notch higher. Lupita Nyong’o and Our First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta. Need I say much? Their social status- check. Position in the community especially among women-check. Most importantly, their HAIR. Short, well-kept, amaaaaaazing is all I can say.

LupitaSo here is the thing; whether you have long, curly, short or straight hair it all boils down to not just a fashion statement but holding a rare spiritual power and energy. How you wear your hair will be considered an expression of your unique individuality. My hair is my crowning glory and my latest Ausfahrt from the fashion norm has left many of my friends asking me why? Why cut it? I basically needed something new, that I could wear with pride and certainly be an expression of how I convey myself to others; though I screamed my guts out on the sight of my long soft hair saying goodbye by a fall. For a second I thought I was being cruel  but the look after that horrific experience was outstanding.

So go on ladies, wear your hair the way you’d like to be conveyed to the world or just try something new and unique. I did and not a day do I regret. Nothing and no one should stop you.

Ree

Please Help us Avoid the Road to Pain

#WCD2015
#WCD2015

There was a lot of ire raised from Zerlina Maxwell’s idea in 2013. She had something going on according to her words that ignited a firestorm of hubbub when she sturdily recommended we stop telling women how not to get raped but instead, tell men not to rape women and initiate the conversation from there with prevention. Let me bring this topic closer to my home country. Sexual abuse is a crime that women fall prey to every 3 minutes in Kenya but hardly ever utter a word about. Perpetrators tend to get off far too easily mainly because victims are made to keep silent about the ordeal and have lost faith in the justice system. It is an act that has kept many silent. Reports state that at least 300 people are raped in our nation every day. Few reported cases due to stigma, the release of the offender in an out-of-court agreement with victim’s parents and poor evidence collection has added to fewer victims getting justice after going through rape.

“Now I know what next?” could be an immediate response for some, right about now! The truth is that most rape cases women experience are perpetrated by people they know and trust. I didn’t have to read about it because I heard it from several survivors I met during an official visit to Molo District Hospital.

This health facility in Nakuru County has seen how this social predicament affects the health of individuals, families and communities in the sub-county, creating the need for  The Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) support group that currently supports 15 affected individuals with the help of  Aphiaplus Nuru ya Bonde

“I make a living from selling charcoal and on this particular day, I went to the forest to get some firewood. Later in the day, someone I know stole my goods from my boma and sold them off at a throwaway price. I confronted him and he promised to replace them. I decided to tag along to the forest after he persuaded me to accompany him. The trees were crunching under my feet as we took the leaf-carpeted path into the forest, little did I know what plans he had for me,” narrated *Linnet Wanjiku, a beneficiary of the group’s 8 months program. She gave an account of that remorseful day with so much anger in her voice. Her instincts signaled her on the incoming danger and she decided to go back to the house. “On realizing my intention of leaving him behind, he forced himself on me with his panga on my throat, ripped my clothes off and… I closed my eyes, let my stream of consciousness take hold and drifted into infinity.” That is not all. I can’t get myself to write the whole story; too much to stomach and put in writing. Here’s the thing, we often hear of such incidences on our local radio stations and TV programs, but this was a one-on-one narration. I could see her bleed the salt of her soul as it poured from her eyes where she clenched fists. *Jane was my person of interest out of all the survivors I met. She is just 14 years. 14!!! At such a tender age, she was sexually abused for three consecutive days in an abandoned house, far from home. She is due in one month as a result of what she underwent.

“It takes patience and understanding to help the survivors and that is why the support group was formed”, Anne Muthari, the nursing officer in charge pointed out, and that the initial step to take in such cases is to administer PEP to the patients and take them through trauma counselling. “We first take care of their health then go on to the emotional aspect of the situation”. She further noted that most of the cases are still in court, yet to be effectively tended to.

The road to living a positive life after such an incident is not a smooth one, but the support group has greatly impacted the journey of the survivors. The group seeks to engage in sexual and domestic violence from a psychological perspective, therefore creating a platform for them to express their feelings and get counselling. It addresses this issue by increasing awareness and strengthening the community in prevention and intervention strategies with the help of the local police station and court.

This brings us to the awaited 26th September 2015, e31db77c48941969.awareness.iconcelebrating World Contraception Day. Join YourLifeCom and me on creating an awareness on this significant topic of contraception. Give us your thought on the use of contraceptives by young unmarried couples and individuals. Do you think it would have helped the 14-year-old survivor who is pregnant? If not, inform us of what we might have missed.

Ree

Myths and Facts about Rape

Myths and Facts about Rape: You Should Know!!!

How do you report rape when the police don’t take you seriously? When they do not treat rape victims properly. Many of us might have come across the story of one Charlotte Campbell-Stephen; an Australian aid worker. After a brutal attack and sexual torture of over eight hours by a gang, she had to narrate the ordeal to the police who assured her that no one won rape cases in Kenya. Thola on the other hand, had to wait in the community service centre at a police station in South Africa, and then later on give her report in front of several people in a room. Stories like these are common as a great number of police officers are not trained in the right system to handle sexual assault or rape and many survivors do not know their rights in the same aspect.

All that is will be discussed later.  Are you aware of the misconceptions regarding this topic that many women face? They exist due to several cultural or even historical reasons like gender role expectations; which make many victims remain silent. In order to confront a rape myth, you have to know the facts.

Truth and Lies
Truth and Lies 

Myth: Rape and sexual assault are based on sexual attraction and gratification

Fact: If you are reading this and base your reasoning on this myth please use your tongue to touch your left ear. I mean it. This right here is absurd. Several elderly women have been reported to be raped by young men, in their houses. So, were they skimpily dressed enjoying a glass of wine or what? Toddlers too have not been left out of the target group by such unreasonable individuals. Rape and sexual assault are all about control and domination, not sex. Many people have sexual desires, but the question is how do we control them? Asking God for the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking and actions is a way to start.

Myth:  Most people report rape or sexual assault to the police.

Fact: Let’s just be honest. The police do not treat these issues as important ones. They have never done so, and much has to be done so that they start it. Rape and sexual assault are two of the most underreported criminal crimes in our society; be it the United States or Asia or even my home country, Kenya. Looking into this topic, only 6% of rapists spend a day in jail. In Kenya, rapists are sentenced to slashing (mowing) the grass and judges call that punishment, or convicted for violent robbery instead of the real thing.

Myth: Not fighting back means an individual wasn’t really raped

Fact: Rape is a life threatening incident, above all, when a rapist uses a weapon or force to achieve penetration. I do not regard submission and cooperation as one thing. The appropriate action is whatever the victim does to survive.

Myth: Individuals who commit rape are mentally ill or psychotic and cannot help themselves.

Fact: Very few perpetrators are mentally incompetent and/or out of touch with reality.  Rape may be planned or carried out by acquaintances, intimate partners, family members or strangers.

Myth: Only attractive women are raped

Fact: Do not believe this. Please. Anyone is vulnerable. Children, the elderly and even people with physical and mental disabilities are target groups. Rape is not about infatuation or uncontrollable lust but about control over another person and it’s an opportunistic act of violence.

Myth: When a woman dresses provocatively, she is asking for trouble.

Fact: No one asks to be abused or humiliated. Rapists simply look for easy, vulnerable targets. There is an important aspect to consider, though, that as ladies, we ought to dress appropriately, according to the respect we desire from others. This has raised questions from all dimensions of the society; church, communities, school among others. However, with all said and done, this line of thought blames the victim for what happened instead of the person behind the crime. Individuals from all ages, genders (especially females) and all walks of life have been targets of this unfortunate crime. None of them “caused” their assailant to do that.

Myth: When a woman says no, it really is a yes.

Fact: Let me break this down, into tiny bits that can fit into some people’s minds; YES means YES. This implies that someone is explicitly giving consent. Silence doesn’t mean consent. It is the responsibility of every individual initiating sexual activity to get consent at each level. If you aren’t sure, ask for clarification. If your partner responds with a No, respect his/her wish.

Myth:  Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals deserve to be raped because of their lifestyle.

Fact:  No one deserves to be raped!  This is an excuse used by perpetrators who commit rape as a hate crime against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered individuals.  This may not be in my scope of discussion but important to point out. Religiously, I am not up for the idea but they chose that lifestyle so some respect will do no harm.

By making the issue about sex and not violence sets this crime at being more acceptable and less severe. Be on the guard, take precaution on your friends, relatives, colleagues and please take some martial arts classes. It might come in handy.

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Ree