Mwangi, Mwangi, Ndu'ngu

Age limit or hemline limit? What do we talk about?

It was a dark September night. Nicholas Mwangi, the driver of the Githurai bound matatu from Nairobi CBD; his conductor Meshack Mwangi could not contain the itch in their loins while there was a woman aboard the same matatu. The itch worsened when they stopped at Millennium Petrol Station to fuel their matatu. There, they met Edward Nudge who could also not contain the itch in his loins which was caused by the twitch in his eyes. How could someone with such succulent thighs be on a matatu, unaccompanied, on a dark night? The three men and other such primitive ilk descended on the woman and attempted to rape her. It was only an attempt because the three men did not want to catch HIV which the woman confessed to have.

But if they can’t have sex with her, they must touch her anywhere and feel the smoothness of her skin to satisfy their uncultured primitiveness. So, they touched her breasts, they squeezed her behind, and stuck their fingers into her sexual organ. Such senselessness! Such uncouthness!

We know all that because a man in the crowd caught the senselessness on camera and shared it on social media. The country went up in frenzy. It was argued that she deserved the ordeal for dressing indecently, for going unaccompanied in the dead of night. In her support and defense, and in calling for justice for the victimized woman, it was said and re-echoed all over the country, “my dress, my choice”.

And so, it became so. My dress, my choice.

It was 2014. Following protests across the city, the three were arrested. They have been in custody for three years pending the hearing and determination of their case.

Two days ago, they were sentenced to death for violently robbing the woman. They were also sentenced to 25 years in prison for sexually assaulting the woman. The trio must be thinking, “This was the worst mistake of my life”

The death sentence brings into issue the constitutionality of the death sentence. Is it justified? We have previously discussed the death sentence HERE.

As a feminist, I am inclined to say that the trio deserves a death sentence. But I shall not. The best they should have been given is life imprisonment (the death sentence is usually commuted into a life sentence in Kenya). However, this article is not to discuss the merits of the death sentence. It is meant to stamp my foot down in solidarity with other men and women out there that the dress of a woman is her choice.

Ethics and morality are usually used to fight against women, to keep them oppressed. Thereunder, the question how far should the hemline go is often asked. But who cares about hemlines? Who cares about the color and texture of women’s thighs? Ethics should henceforth demand that men and women occupy their minds with matters which are beneficial to them in the first instance, to their families and to the nation at large.

Surely, instead of discussing limits on the hemline, why don’t we discuss the abrogation of the constitution in Uganda to remove the age limit?

BY SAMALI BITALA

This article appears in our digital law newsletter, The Deuteronomy Vol 7, Issue 3 of July 21st, 2017

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