Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A sex mad country!

It is a measure of our obsession with earth that the victims of sexual violence during the aftermath of the 2007 general elections have been completely forgotten. Every Kenyan and his dog wants a piece of earth to call his own. It is who we are, or so we have all come to believe. Even when it is impractical to hold on to the point-something of an acre in our names, we will kill to keep it (or to get it). But sexual violence, whether it is against women (who are the majority of victims in Kenya) or men, is simply elided by everyone, whether they are in the government or the flourishing civil society industry.

Sexual violence in Kenya has a long history. Sexual violence as an anti-insurgency tactic was extensively used by the colonial administration during the years of the Emergency. The men and women who fought with, supported or were associated with the Mau Mau came to understand the bitter pain and shame that rape and other forms of sexual violence brought. Sexual violence was extensively documented in the aftermath of the 2007 general election. Many of those who documented the stories of the victims heard that rape, especially, was meant to humiliate "outsiders" and to push them out of areas where they didn't belong. Ironically, sexual violence was employed during the Land and Freedom Struggle as it was employed in the 2007/08 crisis as a means of ensuring that earth belonged to the chosen community, and none other.

Therefore, it comes as a bit of surprise that certain members of the Jubilee bandwagon have chosen to focus their attention on the rising numbers of men and women who are declaring for all the world to hear that they are either gay or lesbians or somewhere looking for their sexuality's answers. The announcement of the the legislators that they will summon the Attorney-General and the Director of Public Prosecutions and determine why the two personages have not hauled the men and women coming out of the closet to court will be greeted, by the cultural and religious warriors among us, with relief. For the thousands of victims of sexual violence, it will be one more chapter in a charade that has been running for years. What Jubilee, and Parliament, are reinforcing is that they care more for the safety of our moral (and sexual) health and don't give two shits about the men, women, boys and girls who were violated in such a beastly manner in the weeks after 27th December 2007.

It is a narrative that repeats itself in all manner of things, our misplaced priorities and the things that will get Members of Parliament all hot and bothered. While two-thirds of Kenya's rural backwaters are without running water or electricity, governors have entourages to rival that of the President of the United States. While Kenya's Forgotten Frontier's residents are besieged by armed marauders from over the border, our security establishment is minting millionaires and billionaires at a rate that ought to make the publishers of Forbes magazine proud. While thousands of Kenyans are either killed or maimed on Mwai Kibaki's Chinese-funded shiny highways, carpetbaggers and charlatans of all stripes are busy cornering the market for all eternity on rail transit. Our focus is always on the shiny new toy. Gays and lesbians are it today, thanks to one or two high-profile revelations in the past few months. But the old raggedy doll that is victims of sexual violence during Kenya's descent into madness remain an official afterthought, well and truly ignored even by the chanting yokels of the civil society industry and their donor partners.

What many refuse to accept is that this nonchalance is having a pernicious effect on the youth and children. Especially because of our embarrassment when discussing sexuality between generations, many children and youth grow up knowing little about the opposite sex and how to navigate the roiling hormonal waters of sex and sexuality. Hence the panicky reaction to pregnant girls in primary or secondary schools and the bat-shit-crazy reaction to gayism and lesbianism in our legions of single-sex boarding schools. Many men, and quite a few women, are now sexual predators because they know that we will not talk about it, we will do nothing about it and the State will focus more on homosexuals and abortions and the things that animate the far-right USA conservatives.

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