November 17, 2014 by Kambili M.A. Chimalu
Right there in public, they stripped her of her clothes because she was tempting them with her indecent mini-skirt dressing.
By now, everyone with some kind of internet access or an awareness of the larger world would have seen the video or read a news story about the lady that was stripped naked in Kenya because of her “indecent dressing.”
There are few things that break my heart more than the manifestation of the belief that women are supposed to be slaves to the whims and egos of men, and my heart breaks doubly when some people (especially if said people are women) try to justify, rationalize, or excuse the violation of a woman’s personhood and dignity.
Some of the comments I read online regarding this issue sounded something like this: “Why was she dressed indecently even though I don’t support the actions of the men.”
This is taking victim blaming to a whole galaxy of its own. In cases like this, there is no gray area because everything is black and white. Was the young lady causing harm to anyone? No. Did a pack of animals claiming to be men violate her in public? Yes. This is where the conversation ends for any sane human being. There is no rationalizing, justifying, excusing, or “but-ing,” the actions of these men. The moment we attempt to add a “but” after our condemnation of this act is the moment we get on the slippery slope that will lead us further to statements like “was she drinking” and “why is she too aesthetically appealing.””
The only conversation that should be going on is the argument on what form of punishment should be meted out to the perpetrators. Since the men that carried out this inhumane act found it fitting to show the world that they are animals, we must endeavor to treat them like the animals they are, so we should be debating on whether the perpetrators should be locked in a cage with starving lions, thrown into crocodile infested waters, or dropped in the middle a shark feeding frenzy.
Looking at the violation of this woman, one has to wonder when a woman’s right to her own body begins in societies such as ours. It is a woman’s prerogative to dress HER body in any way she sees fit. If her choice of attire offends some men because she is “tempting” them with her indecent dressing, then they are free to peacefully go walk off a cliff or better still, go hug a transformer.
A society that believes that a woman’s actions should be ruled by the expectations or egos of men is a doomed society. A woman should not be afraid of leaving her house with a short skirt lest she offend the sensibilities of some men who will set upon her and violate her body. A woman should not be burdened with the task of “not tempting” men who apparently seem to have no sense of self-control.
We have to also ask, “where is the humanity of those men and what kind of society/culture produced men who think that the violation of a woman is acceptable in any way?” What values were instilled in these men? We must rear a different generation.
I don’t have sons yet, but I have a very solid idea of who I want my sons to be. My sons will not think that it is the responsibility of a woman to shield them from exercising self-control. My sons will not think that a woman’s body is a commodity that can be violated at random. My sons will know that women are people worthy of respect. My sons will understand that it is a woman’s right to dress her body in any way she sees fit.
Sometimes, I grow weary and tired of continually screaming against the brutalities and oppressions that are visited upon women, but I understand that I have a moral responsibility to lend my voice to the general struggle. I look at the freedoms I enjoy today and I thank the women that have gone before me who fought for me, so I must fight for the women that will come after me. I understand that the change I want to see will begin with me. Even if I don’t enjoy these changes, I can rejoice in the fact that my daughters will not be terrified of leaving the house in mini-skirts for fear of being violated.