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GBV

I was innocently watching a movie in what we called DS. Then I heard him shout my name,

‘Corrie!! Corrie!!’

It was a drunk voice. My then boyfriend.

I turned and due to the embarrassment I was avoiding to happen, I walked to where he stood.

Behind him were his women friends shouting,

‘Tebu muulize why she is cheating on you?'(Ask her why she is cheating on you).

What?

Before i could ask any question. He lifted me and hit me up against a wall.

Hit my tiny head on a wall. All i could feel was not pain. But shame and anger!

What did i do wrong? Was the the question I asked myself.

The women who were his entourage from the bar to the campus stood there. Refereeing what seemed like a JUSTIFIED act.

I really can’t recall what i asked him, but all I remember was trying to run away from him.

Everyone had stopped what they were doing. Even those who were busy making out underneath the maasai shukas stood and walked to where we were.

They stood. They stood as i got lifted for the second time and got hit against the wall again.

See this was not a new thing in campus. Men were always battering their women. It was a thing. I think to prove their manhood or something. Who knows!

Next to where had been made the ring for the fight, were the women hostels…My God you would see everyone peering through the curtains.

I could imagine what they were whispering,

‘Corrie anachapwa!’

‘That tiny ka dark girl who plays basketball and with a loud voice is being beaten. Come and see.’

I managed to run. And he was quick runner. I mean he played rugby and his role was this thing they call wing or something (the guy who runs on the sidelines-correct me if I’m wrong)

He grabbed me from the back and slapped me, a slap that made me stand. Now i felt pain, not the slap pain, but heart pain.

This is someone who claimed to love me. The crowd in campus was now growing.

Idle people. Standing. Witnessing and doing nothing.

His entourage of women still shouted.

‘Apate adabu!!’

And let me tell you, some of these ladies are my friends on Facebook. These are people who now comment on my Facebook status updates and send me inboxes as if our friendship was nurtured on apples, bananas and strawberries.

After he slapped me, all i could feel were hot tears of fear, anger and pain. I think seeing the huge crows gathering made him realise what he had done.

That’s when he said,

‘I thought you were cheating on me with him!’

As he pointed at the guy who was his friend and supposedly i had cheated on him with. I was shocked! Like seriously?

He thought? He had been told I was cheating on him. Why don’t people sit down and talk issues instead of listening and hitting?

The women in the bar (my now facebook friends smh) had for a long time not liked the idea of me being his girlfriend.

Maybe I was not cool enough. Maybe i was not pretty enough. Probably being a dark skin did not resonate with the idea of ‘perfect girlfriend’ they had envisioned for him. They just didn’t like me. And i knew it. But love is love. I chose to be with him because his friends did not define my feelings or his (at least i thought).

At that moment of pain, anger and bitterness i just looked at him and said something like ‘You should know better’.

He tried to console and talk to me but no. I just ran!!! At that moment i picked my phone and called my best friend Abba.

I can’t remember our conversation, but all i wanted was to talk to her.

FYI: I hold no grudge to these women. But we should be our sisters keepers. Good lawd!

You know gender based violence does not start with a slap, or a shove or being hit on the wall, no. It starts with some little signs.

Disrespect. Verbal abuse. There are so many signs but now these two are the ones that pop into my mind.

Did I see these signs? Yes i did. But i always told myself ‘Ahhh it’s just domestic issues. All couples have them’.

Little did I know that that would be the very first time I would be a victim to violence. Something I had only seen on TV, and a culture that had been groomed back in campus.

This is hard for me to write. I have opened up to only few friends of mine about this. Mostly because i thought something that happened 7 years ago was irrelevant. Also because I never wanted to burden those who love me with the idea that i went through this and worse.

But lately as i speak out against gender based violence i realise that If the shoe fits I should speak out.

GVB is not just violence in a relationship; It could also be rape.

My good friend, who I promised not to disclose her name because some members of her family don’t even know that she was raped.

She had left a club in Westlands, a little tipsy. She was with her friends. She really can’t recall much about that night, especially the point where she got into a strange man’s guy.

Her friends watched her as she got into this car. Next thing she remembers is sleeping on the ground outside some apartments in Nairobi surbabs. Her clothes torn. Watchmen towering over her and asking if she is dead or alive.

No one called the cops. No one bothered to call an ambulance. None of the watchmen bothered to do anything. They stood. I mean she could just be a whore who got had it bad with a wrong man! NKT!

That is how she lost her virginity. To a stranger. All she could think of is calling her parents.

One thing she told me was that she is grateful to her supporting parents who did not judge her. Took her to the hospital and thereafter a counselling process began.

Her siblings don’t know about it. And she preferred for it to be that way.

Some might say ‘Ohh Nairobi women dress in a slutty way and it is easy for men to prey on them!!’

For crying out loud, there are some men who rape 1 month, one year old babies! Did their diapers turn the men on!! No alibi should be used for such issues jameni!

Gender based violence and rape are issues that many would laugh about or choose to judge according to their preference. Take the case of Morris, the now laughable Mollis case.

Take the recent case of Senator of Bungoma Wetangula being beaten by his wife and them fighting; Quite laughable according to social media judges.

Take the case of Nairobi Women representative being slapped by Nairobi governor. They say she deserved it because she took her ‘kimbelembele’ there.

Many videos circulate social media- and if it is a woman being beaten the question is always ‘What did she do WRONG?’

If it’s a man being beaten it’s a case of ‘He is WEAK!’

It’s sad how we have cultured such a society.

I’m not a mother yet, but I can imagine if a son is brought up in an abusive family,

‘The only way to make a woman listen to you is by beating her!’

A daughter brought up in an abusive family.

‘Its okay for a man to beat me up, because he knows best. I mean he provides for the family!’

I’m not saying that this is the case but it is indeed what we are cropping.

Some social media updates and comments make me sad, because one would ‘assume’ that our generation should know best because we are ‘learned’ or something.

No man or woman should be abused or raped. No man or woman should be discriminated against.

Some people tell me, Corrie, you don’t know these things, until you get married that’s when you learn to vumilia. You vumilia because you have children. You stay with the man because of your kids. So I wonder. Is it better to be separated or to have your kids go through the mental torture of a husband or wife who when he/she comes home they run to the kitchen or bedroom and pretend to be busy; So that they can just have some peace and avoid the home scuffles. But I’m not married, what do I know. You married people and counselors tell me.

Call me arrogant, strong, opinionated or full of shit, but no, I AINT staying with a man who abuses or mistreats me. Whether a boyfriend, a date or whatever. No!! And I sure as hell will not have friends be it men or women, who beat up their spouses or people they are in a relationship with. Ziiii!!!

No one deserves to be beaten or abused. Is it that serious? Is that the only way to solve issues?

Tomorrow we commemorate the International women’s day with the theme dubbed Pledge For Parity #IWD2016.

This change cannot happen overnight but it starts from one individual to create that conversation. I know as Kenyans we have so much shit going on with out leaders and our system is going to the dogs sigh, but let’s take a moment and be our own ambassadors.

This is to the men who champion against GVB. This is to the women who do not disrespect or beat up their men.

This is to the human beings who choose to stand up for what is right.

Till it happens to you

My fear: Being at the mercy of anyone in any situation! That is the worst place to be. 

 

YALI

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