As a child growing up one thing I remember is the protection my parents had over me. I was reminded constantly to stay away from strangers, not to accept gifts from strangers, go to school directly and not to divert anywhere. There were stories of kids being lured into cars by being offered sweets by strangers and they would disappear never to be seen again. Cars with tinted windows were the prime suspect and up to today when I see a car with tinted windows I approach it with caution.
As I grew older into my adolescents and teen hood the protection became more specialized. Stay away from strange men, do not accept gifts from strange men and do not be trusting even around the familiar men. There will be men waiting just for an opportunity to deflower you be careful.
From a young age I was taught that not everyone you see means is good and has the virtues that you were raised with and being a girl makes it worse. I had to be careful and alert with men. Most of the time avoiding situations where it was just me and a man. If I was walking to the shops and saw a man I had to cross the other side of the road and run. Several times I met men who would point out at my developing chest “ Haiya anga onawe niwambitie kumia tunyodo.” ( Oh so you boobs have also started to develop) And I will call them men because they were never my age mate.
As a grown woman I still have to be wary of men. Going out on a date is a risk whether with a stranger or with someone I have known, whether with a fellow I meet online or with someone I meet at the supermarket. I pass by the matatu stage and hold my breath say a little prayer and hope no tout will verbally attach me. I seat on a matatu and hope for a female passenger to seat next to me and if it’s a man I hold my breath say a prayer and hope he doesn’t get touchy.
It is scary going online and coming across all these stories of women being killed and being raped. It is scary. And while there are all this things that we women are told not to do and to do in my mind I wonder what are the men being told to do? From a young age when they start discovering themselves when they hit puberty, when they are going through their rite of passage what are they told?
When I was being told to be wary of men what were my male age mates being told? What were they told that gives tout courage to abuse a woman and no one stands against them? What were they told that makes someone as old and educated as Miguna Miguna abuse a woman on national television? What were they told that makes them entitled and go violent once sex is withheld even on a first date? What were they told that gives three grown ass men with families to sit down and laugh on national radio about an incident that involves a man pushing down a woman from the 12th floor of a building and blame it on the lady being too available? What were they told?