The last couple of days and weeks, in Kenya, women are being killed by their husbands, lovers, husband’s lovers or unknown people almost on a daily basis.
This killing is a process, it doesn’t just happen. It is a vicious cycle of abuse.
When that woman is being choked yet again,
When her children are being banged against walls,
When she is tied up and beaten with all sorts of objects,
When she is screaming her lungs out for hours and neighbours close their ears,
When she rolls over all black and blue,
When she rolls over all bloody and somehow manages to clean up,
When she cooks up a story and plaster a smile on her face as she walks into Church/Work/Meeting,
When her abuser come crawling back,
When he says sorry and showers her with gifts.
Then the cycle repeats itself . . .
Some make it out walking dead,
Some make it out dead.
Every time femicide is reported, a common question unites the observers section:
Why did she not leave?
And my answer is:
Leave and go where?
Leave and go where when we live in a shame culture that is rooted and propagated by patriarchy with women as the prime sufferers.
From childhood girls are shamed into existence.
Don’t speak out too loudly.
Don’t walk like that.
Don’t talk to men.
You need to be circumcised to control your sexual urges. (but boys get circumcised to become men)
If you ever get pregnant . . . (as if women impregnate themselves)
You must learn to be strong through suffering.
The strength of a woman is measured by how much crap, violence she can withstand and still stand.
What kind of warped thinking is this.
Our fathers, our husbands/partners/boyfriends, brothers, sons have been en-cultured into misogyny and are perpetuating it consciously and unconsciously.
When girls who grow to be women are taught early on that they have to EARN love, attention, care and everything else through life
While boys who grow up to be men are taught early on that they DEMAND for respect and everything else through life
Women are not killing themselves!
Men are killing women!
To the Church
Leave and go where when the Church is the gatekeeper for Patriarchy and the shame culture.
Leave and go where when the Church is a merchandiser for the poor and ignorant masses who will cling to any offered hope . . . And a gun for hire for the rich and the political class
When the Church is a sanitizer for the other end of the spectrum of shame which success, regardless of the source or process through which that success has been found.
When the Church has no time, space or place for the poor, the downtrodden, the weak, the needy and the wanting.
When condemnation of those seating on the pews is the order of the day but dare you turn to those who stand before them and “touch not my anointed” is whipped out . . .
And when the battered, the wounded, the abused woman squeezes her way in . . .
Are you sure you have been praying?
Have you tried praying and fasting, you know even Jesus said . . .?
What did you do to him?
You should allow him to be the head, even the Bible says . . .
Are you being a helper?
As you are handed over to the Mother’s Union/ Women’s Guild/or whatever fancy name the women group is called in your Church
Please go and watch War Room and practice what you watch.
We will be praying for you.
Remember that patience also known as long suffering is a fruit of the Spirit
And don’t forget to SUBMIT to your husband WOMAN!
Woman was made for man and not man for the woman.
Submission is your key to a successful marriage.
And then you become a ‘prayer item’ aka fodder for women fellowship gossip
An example and a byword
Ostracised by the very own that should embrace you in your hour of need . . .
To the Government
Leave and go where when the very institutions that are constitutionally supposed to protect you violate you.
Kichwa ngumu wewe.
Huyu anakaa slay queen.
Enda pale ulipie P3.
Wanawake wa siku hizi ni jeuri sana.
Sijui aina ya Mama zetu ilienda wapi.
Your case is postponed.
You will need a new lawyer.
You cannot afford me anymore.
The other side is paying better.
Leave and go where when her family publicly gave her a bed and let her know she no longer has a sleeping space in their home.
A wise woman builds her own house but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands she was told.
It is your fault
Do you know how much dowry he paid for you
Who will take care of those children
Whatever you do, DON’T SHAME us
DO NOT drag our family name in the mud
Have you gone to see the Pastor?
Have you talked with your best couple?
What are his people saying?
Enda uongee na mama yako hapo nje
Tutaambia watu nini?
Leave and go where when society and thanks to social media is always looking for the next juicy story. Cyber bullying is not a word it is a present reality.
Have you heard? Shshshshs she is coming.
If I was the one, I would cling to my man like a tick.
She has added so much weight, that is the reason
She is lazy, it’s her fault.
Why is she so quarrelsome?
As they post before and after photos of you for emphasis
As they tag you on philandering evidence
Leave and go where when your opportunistic ‘friends’ are waiting for your downfall they jump into your bed.
What did you do?
You must have done something.
A man cannot just hit you?
Are you sure you did not provoke him?
Change your wardrobe
Listen more and talk less
Just do what he says
Just do what he wants
Be grateful, do you know how many women would kill to have him
Utaambia watu nini?
Leave and go where when you do not even know who you are anymore.
When you have been so beaten down, literally and figuratively you can barely recognise yourself in the mirror.
Leave and go where when you have compromised every value you held, every belief you had to keep face, to uphold the sham of a marriage/relationship you are in.
Leave and go where when threats hang over your very own life.
Leave and go where, when this is all you have known.
Leave and go where with offspring that need support
Leave and go where when you never completed school because you fell in love
Leave and go where when you haven’t worked in the name of home making
Leave and go where when you have no evidence to support your claims of abuse, danger and cruelty
Nitaambia watu nini?
Leave and go where?
That is the question you need to answer before you ask:
Why did she not leave?
Because as long as we do not address the WHY women do not leave, let us get ready to continue burying our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our girlfriends.
As long as we are not ready to address our obsession with success in every sphere of life and ignore the cost at which that success is arrived at, let us get ready to raise up a generation of broken girls who will be fodder for killing in a few years.
As long as we are not ready to address our fear of failure and the shame we cover up those we deem as failures with, let us get ready to continue existing in this vicious cycle of misogyny.
As long as SHAME is the thing we fear most in life, femicide will continue being our reality.
We talk big in public and behind our keyboards,
But when the rubber meets the road,
We sit far, very far, shaking heads, wagging tongues and ask: WHY DID SHE NOT LEAVE?
And I ask you, I ask me, I ask us:
LEAVE AND GO WHERE?