While many female activists are currently fighting for equal rights in the United States, it seems that something important is not being recognized; the treatment of women in other countries. On February 15, The Guardian shared an update on the current status of women in Kenya. Unfortunately, there has been little progress following the countries’ 2007 presidential election that highlighted the sexual violence issues prevalent in the country.
A young women named Adhiambo was 17 when the election occurred. She used to shuttle between homes of family members in one of Nairobi’s poorest neighborhoods. But one day, what used to be an easy bus ride turned into a horrible nightmare. She was gang-raped by 10 men due to her gender and ethnicity. Unfortunately, what happened to Adhiambo is not rare; hundreds of women in Kenya are still dealing with the physical and psychological effects from the surge of sexual violence. As a result, Adhiambo has been chosen by Human Rights Watch (HRW) to be interviewed and monitored following her tragic experience.
Source: The Guardian
Rape isn’t something easy to talk about. Here in America we mostly picture a male forcing himself upon a young girl without her consent. But it has been confirmed that in Kenya, the women are mostly raped by a group of four to ten men at a time. More often than not, these women are abused in front of their families and children and can be penetrated by gun barrels, sticks and other unsettling objects. Resulting from these acts of sexual violence, many women have contracted HIV or gotten pregnant in a place where abortions are generally forbidden. HRW has called for reform and government assistance to help these victims. Many Kenyan women are still living in slums, are sick and being ignored. Some even struggle with suicide and extreme mental repercussions from the sexual assault that they have experienced.
President Mwai Kibaki was elected in December 2007. He is a member of the Kikuyu community, which rivals the Luo community. His presidential victory instigated this stream of violence, fighting and sexual abuse. Adhiambo said her Luo features are what lead to her rape. The men noticed she was from the other community, attacked her by raping her in turns. She was left near a river where a women from the Kikuyu community found her and clothed her.
As an American female college student, I believe that conversations surrounding sexual violence in any country are becoming increasingly important. Just because we don’t see and hear of similar acts of violence in our own country does not mean it does not happen. Kenya is not the only place this type of disgusting discrimination happens. It is just as prevalent in many other developing countries such as Sudan, Afghanistan and India, just to name a few.
Source: The Guardian
While many young female activists are concerned with receiving the respect they deserve in the workplace through equal pay, equal positions and equal treatment, they are not talking about those women who nearly lose their lives every single day. While moving toward total equality in the U.S. workplace is important, I think we need to pause and recognize the progress we have made in the U.S. That is not to say we should stop demanding equality in the workplace, but maybe it’s time to rally around those women who need it most, the women who face physical abuse day in and day out. Politicians who tout themselves as being supporters of equal rights should broaden the discussion to include women of other nations. Truly, all it takes is a quick shout out from Hillary and thousands of people might think about the issue for a moment. If the United States shows strong political will on the issue of sexual violence, and urges these countries to do the same, in time it will become a global priority. No doubt, this will be a tough task for those implementing reform, but with growing awareness and assistance from the U.S. small steps can be made toward one giant leap for women across the globe. It’s 2016, and I find it baffling that one nation could potentially experience a female president in eight months, while another can hardly keep women safe enough to leave their own homes.
Written by: Christina Cantelmi
Online Management Team
66 George St
© COPYRIGHT 2014 COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DESIGNED IN CHARLESTON BY ANNEX STUDIO.