Protect women in politics from abuse

Friday, February 18th, 2022 00:00 | By
ODM leader Raila Odinga during the Azimio La Umoja event at Kasarani, Nairobi on December 10. PHOTO/COURTESY

On Tuesday, a group of women politicians in Mombasa raised the red flag over what they termed as rampant sexual harassment by their male counterparts.

The female aspirants claimed a substantial number of them were going through harrowing experiences through sex-for-party-ticket overtures ahead of the August election.

They alleged that the male leadership in various political parties had resorted to soliciting sex in exchange for party certificates during the primaries.

Led by Mariam Jumaa, who is seeking to contest the Kipevu MCA seat on a Jubilee Party ticket, the women asked aspirants to reject any form of sexual advances. They said such cases were common though many women suffer in silence.

They said most female aspirants are not ready to accept sexual demands and their gender should in no way be construed as weak and vowed to strongly fight for their rights within political party structures without entertaining any tinge of intimidation.

These complaints point to a matter that must be taken serious. Reports of women politicians being sexually molested during the electioneering period in Kenya are not new. The assault goes beyond sex to encompass violence and destruction of property.

What is more, general harassment of women, whether at campaign time or not, is rampant to a level that it has come to be taken as a norm.

Every election year, various stakeholder agencies have chronicled incidents where women candidates have either been sexually, physically or verbally assaulted by male rivals and their agents.

In most instances, women – both young and old – are publicly harassed by hordes of chauvinistic male ruffians of all ages. This is untenable. Such uncouth behaviour should not be allowed to continue.

We are calling out the parties’ top leadership to loudly and unequivocally pronounce themselves on this matter.

This is crucial because the leaderships have been persistently accused of hand-picking their girlfriends, mistresses and relatives for elective and nominated political positions, only for those who have been dished those positions to deliver little or nothing.

Similarly, we are calling on the law enforcement apparatus all over the country to see to it that the rights and dignity of all Kenyan women seeking political positions are guaranteed. We are living in the 21st Century. Habits of yore must be discarded, by one and all.

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