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Written by Lincoln Gesicho Nyamumbo Oonge Published on #Gender issues, #sexual violence, #mydressmychoice, #dispelling myths on sexual violence

So this week on my take vs society. I worked on something a little more controversial. I want to address the status quo. The gap between things as they are and things as we think they ought to be. Today I tackle a topic that may possibly push many buttons. Before I begin, I think it is important that I mention that, I am not doing this for fun, I think it is a topic that should be talked about and not avoided, and the only way to inform people and endevour to change attitudes is to push those buttons and get people out of their comfort zones and talking about it. I believe we have all encountered the tag #mydressmychoice. We have watched members of the national assembly make statements like "women who are married should not be spending time late in the night with married men" in light of the rape incident in a member of parliaments office in kenya, as if alleging that she contributed to her raped. We have encountered attitudes like, "the reason women are getting raped is because they dress provicatively". So many times , the victim is painted as the villian. How many people have sat down and assesed the statistics on rape, sexual abuse and issues sorrounding Gender based violence? How many people know the statistics on the nature of the people at a risk of sexual violence. Sex, and sexual orientation have been topics of focus this week. To quote a tweet today from a Major media house 56% of kenyan women had their first sexual experience before age 18 {https://twitter.com/citizentvkenya/status/593708412627755008} its the topic of secret interest and an issue that should be a major public concern but people are afraid to talk. well a surprising fact is that some of the women 15-19 are already married , and have began the journey of motherhood, thats a topic for another day.

In this discussion, I cannot particular questions .

1 Are women exercising their right to dress as they please or are they simply buying into their own objectification.

2. What are the factors that pull that trigger that initiates or incites a rapistinto action? is dress code among those factors

3. How women’s dress code might or might not impact the treatment of their sexual harassment cases

There has been a huge shift in what is percieved as fashionable today. Initially, stemming from a trend in wearing what was comfortable and convenient in the post ww1 era, demin trousers became widely acceptable attire for women. Evolving into the modern tights, jeggings, leggings and so on as common place fashion. Society became more liberal. This is however still dependent on exactly where you are in the world.

Media, marketing has slowly pushed different articles of clothing into the limelight as fashionable with agendas not always known to us. To a point where , we see women wear what is visibly uncomfortable to them, some with the perception that it is more "fashionable" or trending to show a little more skin. Well, it can be argued that society first walked with less clothing on in the past, but then we can also argue that we should also go back to archaic practices where women were a their fathers property until the were maried and only then did they become their husbands property.

The way women dress is routinely cited as an incitement to rape. It is quite obvious that how one dresses influences how a person will be percieved. It is simply wishful thinking to assume that the way you dress will not influence how people will percieve you. This-and it should be noted- may be very different from who you actually are, perception is often relative. So , indeed, they are free to wear as they please. The way one dresses does not mean, the will willingly lay in bed with anyone. While ones dress code may not be a statement on who they are, it will definitely be percieved as such. That is the first gap between things as we wish they were and things as they are.

Well , what are the factors that pull that rape trigger. A Social experiment meant to educate the public on issues concerning rape, employed the use of a speaker in a washroom playing out an simmulated violent audio recording  and a camera to record peoples reactions and when a potential hero rushed in to asist , they walk in on a message on a mirror saying "this is what a rapist would look like". True to that insinuation, most victims were raped by someone who was known well to them. One is more likely to encounter sexual violence at home than from a stanger in the street. While the experiment met a lot of criticism, I believe it probably helped more men understand sexual violence than most activists have managed to so far, well, atleast it helped me. So now we know that anyone can be a potential rapist, your uncle, boyfriend, husband, teacher, neighbour. As bizzare as this may seem you are indeed more at risk in your home than in the street. Do rapists look at how you are dressed then? well, yes and no. While the male trigger is often visual, you arent excluded as a potential target because you are dressed conservatively. So what is the point of telling the ladies to dress well.

Well,a victim on her path to recovery will encounter a lot of stigma and perceptions that will retard her growth and obstruct her path to healing. It goes a long way to remember that it was never her fault, but one is always safer conservatively dressed, since Scrutinising the way in which a woman was dressed at the time of an assault is one of many ways in which common myths and prejudices are exploited in order to damage her reputation and credibility in the interests of the defence. (my perception as a law student) it may not be a legal argument as such but it will appeal to the jury. You want to ensure that justice will be available to you? then dress well because, the world is not as fair or as forgiving and understanding as the man writting this article. It has all manner of men, some out to get you. So as you may think "I know I have a good figure and like to dress sexily, that doesn't give any man the right to sexually abuse me" which is very true.Oh how I wish you (in practice) were free as a woman to wear as you felt like, but you arent.(A freedom we must continue to fight for) Maybe in a few years when my sons will be walking down the streets having in memory what I have taught them. Until then, remember , there is a gap between the world as we wish it were and the world as it is.



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