The following is based on a true story.
Yesterday was hard to swallow. Even as I write this, I am tormented by what I saw. See I was on a motorcycle with my boyfriend at around 9.pm around the village where my campus is located. We passed near a local club. It was dark, and the club was already locked; because it’s a village. So I see a man standing over another man, and it looked like he was about to piss on his friend. He looked drunk. I almost commented on it then my boyfriend says “that guy wants to have sex with that woman because she is wasted.” I was alarmed. It’s like I had not heard him so I asked him to clarify and he says, ‘didn’t you see it? That was a woman down there!’
‘Please stop!’ I told our rider, he is our regular rider called Eliab. He stopped, and my boyfriend asks me what I want. Sometimes he thinks that am a little crazy which is no news to me. I ask him one more time “what did you see?” and he confirms it. I look over the place where I saw that man; it’s a small distance from where we are but its dark. Though in the darkness I can still see the man beckoning on the woman. My boyfriend tells me “what do you want to do?
Look at her, she is drunk and has let herself go, she has called on what is coming to her.” My boyfriend is as good as the next man. Eliab lights the path, and the man stops what he is doing and looks to our side. “Babe lets go. There is nothing we can do here.’’
Perhaps that was it or maybe the realization that, that could have been me at any time. I start walking back to where they are. At that point, I did not care if my boyfriend followed me, I could not let that happen to my fellow woman. Eliab and my boyfriend follow me, with Eliab lighting the way. We reach the scene, and my boyfriend asks the man, ‘what’s going on here?’ I look at the woman, who is lying on the ground, drunk and her skirt pulled up to her thighs.
I asked her what was happening and amidst her drunken words she says, ‘don’t let this man take me, he does not have good intentions.’ That broke my heart. The man defends himself ‘I was just trying to get her home.’ At that moment, I felt a wave of anger like never before. The woman pleads with me to get her home. You have to understand that she was a villager, an unkempt woman now dirty from alcohol and soil. A thing that society looks at as being unworthy. I could not leave her with that vulture.
Eliab tells me that we should get her home. We help her up, Eliab grabs a torch, and my boyfriend grabs her other hand, and we escort her to her house where she directs us. The man is still there trying to tell us of his good intentions and that he even knows her place. We get to her house which was locked. Her neighbor was outside his house, a man. I ask him, ‘will you help her.’ He looks at her scornfully and says that her husband is in the house. We watched her struggle with the door then finally say that she was okay and that we could leave her there. I beckoned the neighbor to look after her, but he couldn’t give a rat’s ass.
We walked the rest of the journey with my boyfriend telling me stories of how campus men also do this, and by the time we got to his house, my knees were too weak, and my heart was so burdened. He couldn’t understand when I started crying; he thought I was thinking about it too much. But I knew what was going on in my head. How can people be that heartless? How did society get here? What if we hadn’t arrived there on time? Why did that man think he had any right to do that to the woman? Why do people believe that rape can be justified and where was God in all these?
My heart was troubled, and my mind was somewhere else. I asked God so many questions, for example, why did he have to make women so vulnerable to men?
Women from all over the world get raped and what hurts me most is that people always try to justify the action. I have had many men and even women say that when a woman is dressed ‘indecently’ she calls for rape. A woman once told me that she encouraged men to undress another woman because she felt that the woman was dressed badly. I looked at her and then looked at her teenage daughter and told to shut up. She, of course, thought I was very disrespectful.
Yesterday’s woman could have been me or any other girl in the campus. People get drunk, and at one or more times, they have blacked out. Does that give someone the right to have sex with her, no, that’s not the right word, to rape her? And why are people always justifying women abuse? When a woman is beaten by her husband, when she is undressed by a mob or when she is raped. People have the guts to ask, ‘what did she do to him, what was she wearing?’ are men so gullible that anything can spur an outburst?
Some may say that this is feminism. Let them, but know for sure that this has never been a war of women against men, but of intelligent men and females against narrow-minded men and women.
You Might justify rape, battering or undressing, but let me ask you this, ‘would you justify it if it happened to your sister, your wife, your mom, your cousin, your friend, or even your daughter?’
By Wambui Ochieng’.