In the recent weeks, i have been one angry and frustrated Kenyan woman, because of  a heart wrenching story that continues to show how violence and sexual abuse against women is pervasive.

The  story, was a media clip posted by K24, a Kenyan News Channel, showing  a woman who was physically assulted by her husband after he found her "supposedly" cheating on him with another man. Due to public outrage, the clip has since been pulled down out of the K24 Youtube channel. From the clip, one gathers that the two were separated.

In the Video, the husband to this woman, and his friends are seen bringing out the woman and the 70 year old from their hotel room. The husband is seen to continuously throw kicks and blows to his wife as she lies on the ground trying to take cover, as others watch. His wife constantly points at the old man, saying since her husband left her, it is the 70 year old who has been feeding her and her children. The man, and his friends also drag out the 70 year old man, insulting him and  stripping him of his trousers as he begs for their mercy and forgiveness. The most surprising thing is that the husband of the battered woman is seen taking her purse, parting with 5000 shillings that she had apparently recieved from the 70 year old man. At the end of the scuffle, the husband is heard saying that he paid dowry for his wife, justifying his violence against her. 

Kenyan women were outraged about the clip, especially because  the journalist(s) who filmed the whole event, are also perpetrators of violence. You cannot watch a woman or a man for that matter get battered just because you have a job to do and not intervene. I find it very inhumane. Over the next couple of days, Many women activists called for an apology from the Tv Channel, especially because they did not hide the faces of the persons involved. Moreover, most women reacted to the fact that this woman and the 70 year old were two consenting adults who had their personal freedoms abused and violated. Besides, the husband to the woman had no right to mercilessly beat her because he paid dowry for her. No, bride price does not mean you own her. This shows, again the misconception of bride price and what it means to some men. Ladies, in your countries,  does bride price mean that men own women and can therefore treat them as they want?

Everything about that situation was wrong. The husband's actions are not justifiable neither the onlookers nor the journalist(s) that filmed the scuffle. We must refrain from being enablers of abuse simply because we refuse to take action as we watch others get battered. 

In Kenya, the gains made towards working for gender equality are not enough. It must cease to be normal for people to watch as others physically abuse others. We must continue to challenge the ever pervasive patriarchial systems that dictate what men can do, and how they pretty much control the lives of women. Challenging these structures also means that we, as society also take a deep look at our own action or inaction towards gender based violence. We must seek to do the good that is lacking in our societies today. 

 

Comment on this Post

Comments

You have unfolded such a revealing story of importance to ending gender-based violence. Here is a story that has Nigerian society and culture as contexts but has global resonance in patriarchal enclaves enclaves elsewhere.

First, your title intrigued me. It gave me more than enough impetus to find out why of all things, you entitled your story with such an exhortation, urging the audience “not to be an enabler”.

As I read through your expressive narrative, I began to understand. The story highlights the role of media and media persons in covering the issue of gender-based violence, on the ground, day by day, one violent act at a time. You have highlighted how the media, in the manner of (un)covering violence, enables the perpetrator and aids in disabling the victim/survivor.

I read your article a few minutes after I have watched a video of a videographer in Hungary who as she filmed the Syrian refugees, also participated in physically harming them. The short clip recording her vile acts, was uploaded in the UK Guardian.

Your story and that Hungarian clip emphasize and critique the role of media, of what is not done rightly in our daily task of documenting the events of the times. You stressed how voyeurism is disabling.

I wonder if the self-regulating mechanism within media in Nigeria is working; does  it enable/disable citizens to assert their democratic space to express their anger and criticism over the incident?

Whether we are mainstream media or citizen journalist,or plain citizen Alice, you are saying, we aren’t just neutral, mechanistic cameras, we are thinking and feeling beings.

Thnak you so much for sharing this story!

Blessings, libudsuroy

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Oh, I stand corrected, Alice: you did mention that Nigerian women indeed were empowered to assert their anger and express their views, that there is enough democratic space to enable citizens to discuss and debate about the issue.

There is hope there: that women and men are challenging the status quo. The media entitites are chastised; the unjust tradition of bride-dowry is exposed.

These scenarios aren't just unique to Nigeria. These can happen in some other contexts,with variations on a theme. Thanks again!

Blessings, libudsuroy

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Hei Libudsuroy, Thank you for reading my story. It is a story from Kenya actually, and i do strongly agree that the media has to act ethically, that is do good if they can. I do acknowledge that sometimes they face a moral dilemma when it concerns when to film and when not to film, but where it concerns the physical abuse of another person, i think putting an end to that is more important than selling a story. Maybe the question is, are journalists supposed to show empathy?

At this very moment, there are people only you can reach…and differences only you can make –Mike Dooley.

Dear Alice254,

Thank you for sharing this story. The treatment that woman received from her husband, the journalists and other onlookers is so unacceptable. So, so unacceptable. This shows how society perceives the position of a woman -- one who must succumb to the husband's domination even after separation. Poor woman who went after a woman just so she could feed the children the other man has probably abandoned. What nonsense!

This seems like a story to me. Seriously, what was the TV channel thinking? They don't only need to apologize, they need to be charged for their insensitive behavior.

Alice, the pain, trauma, and stigma of that situation will live with that woman for the rest of her life. Can the TV station erase that? Definitely NO.

My dear, continue to be the voice of women.

Sending you and that woman love from Cameroon

Nakinti

Nakinti B. Nofuru

2013 VOF

Founder/CEO Rescue Women - Cameroon (REWOCAM)

nakintin@yahoo.com or rescuewomen@yahoo.com

 

Alice its sad that us Kenyans and most of African countrys have this notion of "Your problem You BUsiness"my pray is thatpeople will start being onothers brothers keepers and stop having a me attitude.And its time for women to just rise up and know their worth.Being a woman doesnt mean you are weak.Lets use the little streaghnth we have to say No to Violence,rise up and be your own defender.WOMEN TOO ARE HUMAN AND NOT PROPERTIES.Once a woman is empowered then such problems will be solved.Thanks for sharing your story dea.

 

Alice - 

Thank you for sharing this story and your heartfelt opinions. It is of course heartbreaking to read of this horrible abuse, and the people who stood by doing nothing to stop it. I agree that the journalists did have a responsability to intervene. However, perhaps the very fact that this video was made public will serve to draw more attention to this type of violence (as you have) as well as to its enablers. Please continue to speak up about it!

I am curious, what is the purpose of paying bride price in Kenya? It is a practice that I have heard of but I am not familiar with the details of it--I'd like to learn more if you have time. 

Thanks,

Liz

Hey Liz, thanks for reading my post. I appreciate the feedback. Bride price in Kenya, also commonly known as "payment of dowry" is a practice widely shared amongst the different communities in Kenya. Dowry however in its' true definition is the transfer of the wealth of a girl's family to the groom's family, like what is practiced in India (The girl's family gives cash or gifts to the grooms family) 

In Kenya we use the term dowry, but it should actually be bride price since  we have no practice of the girl's family giving wealth to the groom's family. It is the men who primarily pay for the bride.

When a man seeks to marry a girl, it is customary that he has to visit the home of the girl, make known of his intentions to marry her, and as a gesture of appreciation to the girls parents, he is required to give something. Thus the genesis of the term bride price.

We have around 47 tribes in Kenya, and each tribe has it's own way of paying bride price, although some tribes share similar practices. Most Kenyans practice this, as it is seen to be entirely a gesture of appreciation to the girl's family and therefore men do not object when asked to pay for a bride. Payment differs widely. It can take the form of cash, food, animals such as a cow or sheep, and some families opt to not receive anything for their daughters. The practice happens within a series of negotiation meetings between both families i.e the bride and the groom family, until both parties reach an agreement.

However, due to urbanization and the fact that people move away from culture as they move into towns, bride price in Kenya has almost become monetary. Most families will now ask for some amount of money and the amounts vary depending on peoples' financial status. If the groom is required to pay so much money that he can't afford it, he is allowed to negotiate, either pay less than what he is asked for, or pay the whole amount over time. Some families say that the more a woman is educated, the more a man should pay for her..i really don't agree with bride price, and i am so curious to hear what my father will ask for!

In essence, bride price is not entirely a negative thing, unless men are of the view that since he paid for a woman, then  she is his property and he can do what he wants with her. When divorce happens, some families require that the woman returns the price that was paid for her by the man. The return of this price, also shows the discontinuation of family ties between the bride and groom's families. I hope this gives you a small picture of what bride price is..

At this very moment, there are people only you can reach…and differences only you can make –Mike Dooley.

Hey Liz, thanks for reading my post. I appreciate the feedback. Bride price in Kenya, also commonly known as "payment of dowry" is a practice widely shared amongst the different communities in Kenya. Dowry however in its' true definition is the transfer of the wealth of a girl's family to the groom's family, like what is practiced in India (The girl's family gives cash or gifts to the grooms family) 

In Kenya we use the term dowry, but it should actually be bride price since  we have no practice of the girl's family giving wealth to the groom's family. It is the men who primarily pay for the bride.

When a man seeks to marry a girl, it is customary that he has to visit the home of the girl, make known of his intentions to marry her, and as a gesture of appreciation to the girls parents, he is required to give something. Thus the genesis of the term bride price.

We have around 47 tribes in Kenya, and each tribe has it's own way of paying bride price, although some tribes share similar practices. Most Kenyans practice this, as it is seen to be entirely a gesture of appreciation to the girl's family and therefore men do not object when asked to pay for a bride. Payment differs widely. It can take the form of cash, food, animals such as a cow or sheep, and some families opt to not receive anything for their daughters. The practice happens within a series of negotiation meetings between both families i.e the bride and the groom family, until both parties reach an agreement.

However, due to urbanization and the fact that people move away from culture as they move into towns, bride price in Kenya has almost become monetary. Most families will now ask for some amount of money and the amounts vary depending on peoples' financial status. If the groom is required to pay so much money that he can't afford it, he is allowed to negotiate, either pay less than what he is asked for, or pay the whole amount over time. Some families say that the more a woman is educated, the more a man should pay for her..i really don't agree with bride price, and i am so curious to hear what my father will ask for!

In essence, bride price is not entirely a negative thing, unless men are of the view that since he paid for a woman, then  she is his property and he can do what he wants with her. When divorce happens, some families require that the woman returns the price that was paid for her by the man. The return of this price, also shows the discontinuation of family ties between the bride and groom's families. I hope this gives you a small picture of what bride price is..

At this very moment, there are people only you can reach…and differences only you can make –Mike Dooley.

Thank you ladies for taking time to read through the post. I believe together we are all making this world a better place to live in, especially for women and girls. We (women) are yet to reach that place where we are valued for who we are, we need to be seen beyond our femininity, or our roles. Societies in Africa, like Kenya are highly gendered with a lot of processes being male dominated. This includes even the family. Women continue to lack the equal role of decision making in the homes even where it concerns their own lives. The patriarchial system in most African countries must be challenged so that even the men can appreciate the need to promote gender equality.

 

At this very moment, there are people only you can reach…and differences only you can make –Mike Dooley.

I definitely agree with you - bystanders, be they journalists or neighbors or strangers, are also complicit in violence if they witness it and do not attempt to intervene in some way on the victims' behalf. I understand the traditional journalistic approach of avoiding intervention with the situation being reported upon, but it should not apply when one is witness to assault. 

It is heartening to hear that the outrage against the clip led to its removal from the Youtube video. While it never should have been uploaded (or even recorded) in the first place, it's exciting that the voices of other women were being heard and recognized by the news station. Hopefully they will take this as a lesson about their reporting practices. Thank you for being part of the movement to challenge this terrible media strategy.

Best wishes, Casey

Dear Alice,

I will not blame the woman for what she did. I was just thinking about the media's actions if this happened in India. The media would have done the same thing by shooting the whole incident. I saw a video shared on whatsapp which kept me disturbed for days. A young girl was burnt in public for wearing provocative clothes (or that is what the perpetrators called it). who gives them the right to do so? More than that, what kind of people shoot this incident but not try to stop such a barbaric act? what is happening to humanity. In both cases, women are victims: victims of a patriarchal society, victims of media, victims of poverty, victims of the society at large. Why isn't anybody trying to catch the husband? The husband who abandoned his wife and then claims right over her, when she is getting help from someone else, needs to be beaten up black and blue. But, instead the 70 year-old man is beaten up. I do not want to say what is right and wrong because for many what the woman did, would be wrong. But, I strongly feel that media and the public should put humanity first and offer help and then, try to capture the story.

Regards,

Surya