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The boda boda issue points to a bigger societal problem


Members of the Kitengela Riders New Vision Success Group wait for customers at their Kitengela stage in Kajiado County [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

Accident or not, ego or not, disrespect or not, no one has the right to touch, leave a lone strip, a woman. Many accidents happen involving boda boda and male motorists, do we see the men being stripped? I’m glad this incident came to the limelight because many of them go unreported.

The woman will be going through mental torture while the perpetrators of this heinous act walk scot-free, presumably targeting the next victim. Thanks to the video clip from the Wangari Maathai Road incident, police have already taken action, arrested a number of suspects, and as we await the law to take its full course, plans are already underway to streamline the boda boda sector, which has run amok.

Even if it has been reported that the main suspect is on the run, the fact that he has been identified is a big relief and it won’t be long before the long arm of the law catches up with him. It is encouraging that this unfortunate incident has attracted the attention of the president, Interior Cabinet Secretary, women leaders and the country at large. What is more unfortunate is that the clip came out on the eve of International Women’s Day!

On a day when we are supposed to be celebrating the great strides made by women over the years, the incident eroded those gains and it became the main topic.

To me, the boda boda incident is just a tip of the iceberg. It points to a large societal problem where women get battered and at worst killed by their husbands and boyfriends. Girls are sexually abused by their guardians. Men bosses demand sexual favours at the workplace while women are judged by how they dress and we do not see anything wrong with it.

For a long time, the assumption was that such incidents were only happening among the low-income earners but unbeknown to many, women are suffering in silence in posh estates for fear of being ridiculed if they spoke out. Some of our leaders are also known to abuse women, so let us not just put it on boda boda. This is a gender equity and equality issue and we have to ask as a society, where did the rain start beating us?

To build a future generation of men and women who respect each other, it has to start from households, how we raise our children. We have to accept that things are not really well and look at the right solutions, otherwise, we will continue treating the symptoms and not the causes.

How many times have we seen women called prostitutes for dressing in a certain manner? It is high time we started looking at women issues with the ‘me lenses’, where you ask yourself, what if that was my mother, sister, wife or daughter? Would I want to treat her that way, would I want anybody do such a thing to her? That way, we will be more conscious about our actions and attitude towards women. That is why when we started Shofco, we had to remind boys and girls that we have to protect all human beings.

I have seen great strides made by women, which gives me great hope that the future is bright. It is high time we spoke louder about gender equity and equality in our households, schools, churches, mosques and communities and not just leave the fight to rights activists.

The writer is the Founder and CEO of Shining Hope For Communities (Shofco)

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