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November 21, 2018

Well done Badass Mummy! Good luck

The Saturday Nation reported that a parent is suing two Nairobi Primary School teachers, the school’s management board and the Teachers Service Commission, after the teachers allegedly forced her 13-year-old daughter to masturbate in front of them because they wanted her to admit she had several boyfriends. As you can imagine, the mother is furious that no disciplinary act was taken against the teachers even after she complained to the head teacher.

I just want to congratulate this mother – well done mum! Kudos to you, God speed your court case and do let me know if you need any kind of support.

Late last year I wrote an article titled The War on Women, and while researching it I spoke to a teacher – we will call Mercy – about the protocol that teachers and students are supposed to follow if they suspect that a teacher is sexually abusing a student. She explained students and teachers alike are encouraged to tell the head teacher of their suspicions, and the head teacher is then to conduct investigations and alert parents who are then free to call the police.

Mercy was clear that this system is flawed as "many parents are intimidated by teachers and they do not want to cause problems. They also misunderstand that their girls are children even if they might not look like children, so they do not report anything to the police". She said: "I think the head teacher should go to the police and the investigation should go on the accused teacher’s record. Right now, teachers just get transferred to another school or parents move their girls if they can. The predator is still free."

Earlier this year the TSC published a list of 96 teachers who have been delisted so that they cannot ever teach again. With the list was a public notice warning members of the public against hiring these delisted individuals as they will be risking a Sh500,000 fine or a jail term of up to six months.

Rape or sexual abuse is a criminal offense. The TSC has done well to carry out their own investigations and mete out their version of discipline, but I think they forgot the penal code of Kenya. If there was enough evidence to ban these teachers for life, wasn’t there enough to forward the cases to the police? Has the TSC really done enough? As Mercy said, "the predator is still out there". Sure he (only two of the 96 were women) may not be a teacher anymore but he is still walking free.

What I love about this mum is that she believed her daughter, she went to the school, and when that failed she turned to the courts. This tells her daughter that she matters and is worth protecting. It demonstrates to other victims that they too can get legal recourse. It highlights that this behaviour is not OK. Finally it marks her in my eyes as a badass heroine, fighting for a safe space for not only her child, but all of ours by extension. I hope I get to shake your hand Mummy.

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