In Summary
  • To save the girls, society needs to act. We need to evolve a brand of feminism that guards the dignity and well-being of women.
  • Feminists must evolve from their ethnic cocoons and develop universal policies on sex and sexuality.

As we drove past Ruai shopping centre, Nairobi, I wondered what the market women were saying about Sharon Otieno’s death.

They had braved the hot, dry dusty day. They had defied the stereotype of a woman staying at home waiting for her husband to bring food and clothing for them and their children or exchanging sex for money.

They are full of self-determination and courage to even resist the occasional visit by the county officers, who destroy their goods or extort bribes from them. They are determined to live, work and feed their offspring from their own sweat.

Yet on the Nation front page was the picture of a young woman in expensive attire, make-up, hair-do and phone who has been murdered, allegedly over a love affair gone askew.


Influential elite women “fighting for gender equality” came out to condemn the “male” heinous crime. They even held demonstrations.

But the Ruai women are feminists of a kind: They were discussing the issue while trading and invoking God to have mercy on their children, who are pawns to rich men.

The elite women are mourning women as victims. But theirs are crocodile tears for they have set the standard for what a modern woman should be.

She should be dressed in designer clothes, shod in high heels, adorned in expensive artificial coloured weaves and fake nails and eyelashes, decked out in ambrosial perfume and suggestive lip rouge and ornamented with glittering gold bracelets and necklace and diamond rings.

Not to mention skin lighteners and an expensive state-of-the-art wide-screen smartphone.


They champion the idea of a beautiful woman who is white or wears Western mannerisms. They have perpetuated a consumerism fashioned like that of men.

If the men can club, why not have a girls’ day out at the pub? If the men can have rendezvous of the ‘forbidden fruit’, why not the girls?

It is a show of modernity and liberation to do all that the men do; hence, polygamy has been legitimised by a Bill in Parliament.

To save the girls, society needs to act. We need to evolve a brand of feminism that guards the dignity and well-being of women.

It is time we held conversations about sex and sexuality in our homes and communities.

We need to come out with clear rules and regulations on matters of sexuality.

That will help us to clearly define national laws that will apply to all ethnic communities regarding multiple sexual partners and the minimum age of first sexual encounter.


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