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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We The YOLOs Shouldn't Throw Stones

Kayole and  Githurai; I hate you. You have soiled the good names of your neighbourhoods. Your names are now synonymous to brutal gender based violence that you have meted on women. And you have done all that in a span of a short time. Shame on you!

What are you saying Githurai?
Why are you raising your hand? Speak up, I cannot make what you are saying; you are barely audible. 

Well, well, I understand that you are not as bad as tainted but those touts who sexually assaulted that woman have really tarnished your name. Worse still is the person who took that video clip and was generous enough to share it on social media forums. When it arrived there, we the Y generation did what we do best. We watched it and ensured that it became viral in a matter of hours.

We shared it on Facebook and Whatsapp. We tweeted, retweeted, re-retweeted and even youtubed it.  We ensured that all our friends saw the brutality; the smelly immorality as we called it. We became the judges. We agreed that the action was uncouth, barbaric and uncultured.  We grit our teeth in anger. We said that the Githurai incident was rotten and is a show of how men have gone so low on their morals. Under the video, we put big caption words like horrific and terrible so that we would appear to know how to express our emotions.  After posting the video clip on Facebook, we ensured that it got as many likes as possible. It also had to attract numerous comments because we all wanted to show our solidarity against the vice.  Solidarity for ever, solidarity for ever…. If any of your friends failed to like the video, you felt that they were haters. You were even inclined to think that they could be part of the GBV perpetrators.

We cursed and wondered whether these men have girlfriends, wives, daughters or even mothers. We wondered what the hell could have gotten into their minds. We said that the world is surely coming to an end. We plagiarized popular people’s quotes on the vice and posted that under the video so that we would look wise; sophisticated. Making the video viral in itself showed that we are techno savvy and are in line with the trending topics. That we are not outdated; that we are the YOLOs who know what is hitting the newslines. Well done for that!

What was never pointed out in those social media forums was how many men got sexually aroused by the clip. How many men watched and rewatched that clip till they had a bulge on their crotches.  That was unmentionable. Even if you felt as though you were watching an erotic pornographic clip in seeing that Kayole woman being stripped or that Githurai woman being sexually assaulted, you never said that on social media. Who would dare say that anyway? You would not even think about pointing it out.  No, you would appear guilty. You would look like a pervert yourself. So you hid under the social media guise of terrible and horrific. You dared not say more.

But we didn't at any one point pause to think the trauma that this woman had gone through and what she would go through. Sexual assault is one of those actions that violates an individual’s personal dignity. It is like tearing a piece of paper into tiny bits; even if you glue it together or stitch up and iron it, the paper will never be the same again. Sexual assault causes indelible scars that fail to heal. One becomes bitter and withdrawn hating the offender with a passion. The worst part about it all is that we are not helping in sharing these GBV videos. No, we are only escalating the stigmatization. We are profiling the victims more.  The affected women may take time before they face the world and even when they finally appear in public places, they will always feel as though people are pointing fingers at them saying, “ That is the woman who was stripped in Kayole’ or “That is the woman who was sexually assaulted in Githurai.”

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