29 May 2013

NMG Sexism Fail

Here’s a bit of good news amidst a lot of infuriating sadness: The Kenyan High Court has ordered the police to re-investigate rape complaints by 11 girls. The infuriating sadness:

‘The police rarely investigated their complaints, even locking one girl in a cell after she reported one of their colleagues had raped her, Chidi said. Police demanded bribes to investigate rape, refused to investigate unless the victims produced witnesses, and said victims had consented to intercourse, the victims said. he court order released late on Tuesday in Meru, 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Nairobi, said police contributed to a culture of tolerance for sexual violence against girls.’ (in the Standard)

This petition was filed by an NGO ‘on behalf of the girls, who came to the charity for help after being raped by fathers, grandfathers, uncles, police officers and neighbours.’

Just to set the scene.

Now look at this piece of ‘advice’ by ‘Dr’ Frank Njenga (quotation marks of derision in both cases) published by the Nation Media Group (NMG): Here’s a woman who was abused by a relative, a ‘respected elder’, as a teenager. She seeks advice on whether to speak out on this. Frank Njenga, in a response littered with biblical quotes and references, speculates that she might feel guilty for not having spoken out sooner, and essentially likens her to the adulterous woman in the bible: ‘“He who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”. Not a single person had the courage or track record to throw a stone at her; they all walked away one by one and when they had all gone away (in shame) Jesus asked the adulterous woman to go away and sin no more.’ The woman seeking advice hasn’t sinned, so the relevance of this Bible reference escapes me.

After this, he continues with a new line of argument:

‘Is it possible that you have the urge to tell the truth, not to hurt the elder, but to bring shame and scandal to your husband, yourself and the children? Is it, for example, possible that you feel so sad, empty, hopeless and helpless that you feel you deserve punishment for not just your sins but for the sins of all humankind? (…) Is it possible that in the context of some other pressures in your life you have developed some abnormality in your thinking process and that what you are referring to as abuse by a relative as a teenager is false recollection?’ He then recounts a lengthy, utterly irrelevant tale about a woman who made up a number of offences that she had committed.

Is it possible that Mr Njenga has taken leave of his senses?

Mr Njenga basically calls a woman who has been abused either a) a slut or b) a liar.

More importantly, this was published by the NMG. Way to go – insult and denigrate the victim, and make sure the abuser’s reputation isn’t dented the tiniest little bit. Is there *any* quality control at the NMG all? Who’s the public editor?