I’ve said over and over again that I’m not a feminist. I am – however – a woman, and this article maddened and saddened me on about a hundred levels. It goes beyond prostitution. It goes beyond simply selling my body for cash. It delves into a much darker region.
You see, these are not just women working on their backs. These are businesswomen, with business plans, and capital, and sales strategies. These are women with money. Their plan is to invest this money into products which they mark up and sell at a profit. Which is perfectly logical in this capitalist economy.
But no. They can’t buy these goods – which they have the money to pay for – unless they sleep with the sales people. So in effect, they’re paying for the goods AND for unwanted sex. They’re paying for it. Do you get that? They’re not being prostituted. They’re paying for sex that they don’t even want. What depravity is that?
Oh, and it’s not just sex and fish they’re paying for. They’re also paying for STDs. Diseases that can kill them, their husbands, and their children. Because some of these women are married. And they’re being forced to have sex with strange men in order to BUY fish to feed their families. So on top of everything else – pun fully intended – they’re basically paying to be infected by AIDS.
“Parliamentarians are expected to operate within the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. Parliament, like all other state organs, is not above the law. Members of the National Assembly, like all other state officers, and the National Assembly, like all other state organs are compelled by the Constitution to adhere to the national values and principles of governance found in Article 10 of the Constitution. We therefore agree with the petitioners that the resolution by the National Assembly to nullify the Gazette Notices published by the SRC was unconstitutional.” – Judgment in Petition No. 227 of 2013 at paragraph 82.
The above judgment by a three-judge bench sitting at the High Court at Nairobi is significant for two distinct yet connected reasons: firstly, it is a big win for the doctrine of constitutional supremacy against the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty and secondly, it restores much-needed public trust in the ability of the Judiciary to dispense justice. A copy of this landmark judgment is available here.
In the recent past, there have been several spirited public campaigns against members of parliament (MPs) whom many registered voters feel have gone rogue by putting their narrow private interests above those of the electorate that put them in public office. The climax of this perceived parliamentary impunity came in May 2013 when the National Assembly (NA) wrote to the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) purporting to nullify the remuneration of various categories of state officers which the SRC had published in the Kenya Gazette.
All 50 years of its freedom have amounted to everything you see around you today. All the freedoms that we enjoy, all the development that we witness and all the suffering that remains.
Last week, the the Creative Director at my place of work drafted a fairly sober email for one of our clients to send out on independence day. It talked of the “battles we won and the blood we’ve shed”. I had to tell him to rewrite it as it was too dark. Because if truth be told, we have tons of reasons to celebrate.
But while we’re being honest, it’s hard to remember those reasons when everyday, we are blinded by archaic injustices.
Yesterday, I happened to be a stonesthrow away from where the University riots began when they began. I read online about how the students were infuriated because one of their own supposedly committed suicide while in police custody for cheating on an exam. Students I spoke to seem to think “suicide” is a cover up. It’s not clear and I’m not here to take sides.
Life is all about context. Not everyone who takes something without asking is a thief. Not everyone who makes a sex joke is a chauvinist. Not everyone who is nice to a white person is a racist. Not everyone who makes sarcastic comments is an activist.
Let’s talk about my friend Sam. He lives in Lang’ata and spends a lot of time on Twitter. Last week, he went out with online friends. After a fun night out, he called a cab, came home, and blacked out. The next day, he woke up on his sofa in his underwear. Apparently, some thugs had followed him home and carried everything except his sofa, because they couldn’t get him off it.
Being a normal middle class citizen, he went to the police. They laughed as he gave them receipts for all his electronics, complete with serial numbers. They took his statement, and told him he was the third guy in the building to be robbed that week. They asked him to fuel their car so they could inspect the crime scene.