In Summary
  • Every woman in Kenya, whether young or old, will tell you that they have at one point in their lives encountered some form of sexual harassment, most likely at their workplace.

  • Sexual harassment in Kenyan workplaces is common.

  • Some women even think this is the norm and rationalise it by saying “that is just how men are”.

  • A society or organisation that does not talk about sexual harassment is one that does not respect women.

Many of you probably don’t know this, but there has been a scandal brewing in the Kenyan tech industry.

I am surprised that the rest of us have not picked it up and made it a national issue. One of the “fathers of tech” has been accused of sexually harassing a young woman who worked in the company where he is the boss.

The woman has since left the organisation after months of waiting for investigations to bring the man to justice. From the look of things, the company’s board of directors appears to care little about this “small matter” and the accused seems to be going on with his life unperturbed.

VERY COMMON

Which brings me to my point. Can we please talk about sexual harassment now that it is becoming all too common in this country?

Every woman in Kenya, whether young or old, will tell you that they have at one point in their lives encountered some form of sexual harassment, most likely at their workplace. Whether it is in the form of a male colleague commenting about her body shape or the length and tightness of her skirt or the fragrance of her perfume, sexual harassment in Kenyan workplaces is common. Some women even think this is the norm and rationalise it by saying “that is just how men are”.

Female politicians are not spared either. They are routinely insulted even on live TV on the basis of their sexuality and also endure other forms of harassment on the campaign trail.

'LOCKER-ROOM TALK'

Then there is the “locker-room talk” popularised by Donald Trump. I have said in this column before that some Kenyan men are mini-Trumps, going by their penchant for objectifying women. There are men who will deny a woman a job because she refused to go on a date with them, and worse, some who will refuse to write a recommendation letter simply because the beneficiary turned down their advances. Other women will tell you of how they were denied career-making projects or were poorly reviewed simply because they turned down a boss.

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