• I wish the world was as simple as 'no means no'
I learnt a long time ago that I can only rely on myself for my safety and security. That in any given moment, whether in a crowd or with friends or even with the person you love the most, no one will step forward to protect you in your most vulnerable moment. I learnt to avoid putting myself in positions that I could not imagine a way out of.
My moment of realisation happened 15 years ago in university. A completely innocent moment was almost taken advantage of by someone I was befriending. It was one of those rare occasions where I trusted the situation around us. I trusted that the person and I were on the same wavelength and more importantly, I trusted the fact that, while this person and I were on a friendship track, our friend circles were so intimate and so familiar that I relied on this as my security blanket.
I may have forgotten the person’s name, but I remember their face and the feeling of dread that washed over me in an instant. I could not believe that this person could forsake their friendships, their career and their reputation at school to try something. I managed to walk out of that situation unharmed, but with the terrifying realisation that I can never trust anyone blindly. I can never compromise on my safety. I can never rely on outside help.
I am reminded of this moment as I read the ever-so devastating yet recurring headlines of women being murdered in random rental apartments in Kenya. For weeks, we have had breaking news of women being murdered in Airbnbs, university dorms and random areas. All these stories have one thing in common: a man scorned.
Why does a scorned man feel entitled to a woman’s body? Why does a rejected man think he can get away with causing harm to the woman who rejected him to ‘save face?’ Simple. We as a society allow it.
Since the dawn of time, man has been told to ‘grab’ what he wants. To take what he wants regardless of anyone’s feelings. And when a man is convicted for these crimes, our judicial systems let them off with a slap on the wrist. Society sends a message that is clear when it comes to gender disparity: a woman’s life has no value.
So what if it was a woman who was a prostitute, a gold-digger or a solicitor that got murdered? Most of the men who enter into these situations know very well what they are in for, so why would they get ‘upset’ and take someone’s life over it? A prostitute is still a person. I’m not here to advocate for prostitutes’ well-being, I'm advocating for everyone’s fundamental freedom of the right to life. No one is entitled to take the life of another, no matter the situation.
I wish the world was as simple as “no means no”. I wish we lived in a society where women were free to reject unwanted advances without fearing for their lives. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where simply being a woman puts you at a greater disadvantage than anyone else.
For society to rid itself of these illnesses, we need to teach our kids to be better from a young age. Teach your sons that they are not entitled to anything. From a young age, instil in them that no means no. That their lives are not dependent on a woman’s approval.
Teach your daughters that using men for money always has a bad end. Teach them their self-worth and that their safety is of the utmost importance. More importantly, to impose the harshest punishments in our judicial systems, so much so that anyone would fear to even contemplate taking another person’s life.