SOCIETY TALK

Will playing hard-to-get solve gender violence?

Women termed 'too available' after one went to see a man but refused sex

In Summary

• Woman crippled for denying lover sex used to warn listeners against leading men on

• It was terrifying to see many people agree with this thinking, including fellow women

Image: PEXELS

Last week, I wrote a lengthy column on how Tanzania’s new presidency would influence many young Muslim women in East Africa. The basis of the article was simple: It spoke about people like myself, a woman, a Muslim and a native of East Africa, the challenges we face and how Samia Suluhu’s presidency would encourage young Muslim girls to dream bigger than we have before.

Alas, in the comment section, a reader, a man, wrote lengthily on how my article was not inclusive enough, how it was framed wrong and how I should not have focused on that particular niche.

He went on to tell me how I should have framed it and proceeded to give me examples of how I could have tackled my article. The comment got to me and upset me in such a way that I armed myself with pen and paper, ready to bang out the next week’s column on how men need to stop telling women how to think and how to express our own emotions and ideas. And then the Homeboyz scandal happened…

Shaffie Weru
Shaffie Weru
Image: FILE

On Wednesday, Shaffie Weru and his cohosts Neville Muysa and DJ Joe Mfalme discussed the case of a woman who was thrown off the 12th floor of a building in Nairobi. The case of Eunice Wangari had already garnered a lot of media attention. Eunice had gone on a first date with a man she met on Facebook in Nairobi’s CBD. When she refused the man’s sexual advances, he allegedly pushed her out of the window.

Shaffie and his colleagues discussed the ongoing case, mentioning Eunice by name on air. He commented on how women in Nairobi are “too available” and need to play hard-to-get. He also made insensitive remarks on how the victim has been left a cripple because of her refusal of the man’s advances after coming a long way for the date.

What continued was a tirade of female bashing among the trio as they discussed how “loose” Nairobi women are. It seemed as though the hosts had forgotten that they were live on air as well as being captured on video for their website. It sounded as though they were in the comfort of their own homes, having what former president Donald Trump referred to as “locker room talk”.

Locker room talk or not, the fact that grown men, some of them fathers, actually believe it was warranted for a woman to be thrown off the 12th floor says a lot about what is wrong with our society. How they justified an attempted murder on a woman who she refused to engage in carnal activities with a man, made me tremble at the reality of the world we live in.

What is more terrifying is they were supported by others who believed the man to be a victim of financial exploitation.

Going through the comments, it was terrifying to see just how many people, both men and women, agreed with these opinions

Radio personality Andrew Kibe posted a short video of himself going off on a tangent after he heard the Homeboyz presenters had been suspended. Kibe’s post was a crass soliloquy on how women should understand that if a man sends them money, they should expect to be “bomolewad”. He even went on to say if the said woman was on her periods then she should jump up and down until it ends but she must give the man something in return.

This has been the most insightful week for women to see how some men think. Going through the comments, it was terrifying to see just how many people, both men and women, agreed with these opinions. There is no excuse for abuse, rape, murder or any other form of gender-based violence. No person should force the other to do something they do not want to do. No one has a right over another person’s body. Nobody has the right to take another person’s life no matter how much they feel victimised. These are at the very least basic human ethics.

As for Shaffie Weru and others, they have since been fired from Homeboyz Radio and been forced to apologise. However, the parent company incurred heavy losses and disciplinary action by the Communications Authority and the Media Council. As to this point, I have always argued that journalism is a profession not a craft. Media houses need to stop hiring ‘personalities’ who do not understand the code of conduct of the profession. National broadcast channels are not the place for one to engage in dangerous rhetoric.

Times have changed. The public outcry is far more powerful than any other instrument. I hope media houses and their presenters understand there are heavy consequences to free speech. As someone once said, it is not the cancel culture, it is the consequence culture.