Rights groups call out EALA MP David Sankok for 'promoting rape culture' in video

EALA MP David Ole Sankok. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

EALA Member of Parliament David Ole Sankok has been accused of objectifying women and promoting rape culture, following recent comments he made while marketing his Narok resort.  

In a now-viral video that has caught the attention of women’s rights groups, Sankok is heard promoting ‘Lovers Nest’, a tree house at Osim County Lodge in Narok.

But it is his description that has rubbed a section of Kenyans and lobby groups the wrong way. He explains that the resort is the perfect getaway for lovers. To go up the house, one will have to use a ladder.

In the video, the lawmaker is heard saying that once lovers are in the house and in the quest for sexual pleasure, the ladder is taken down, leaving no room for partners (the woman) to “change their mind.”

“The tree does not touch the ground, only the ladder touches the ground. After you get in, the ladder is removed. Because several ladies end up changing their minds,” Sankok said.

“At the Lover’s Nest, there’s no change of mind. For the sake of the boy child, who in most cases pays the money for the house, we remove the ladder so that they stay there from evening till morning, that way, the man can get value for his money.”

His comments have been viewed as misogynistic and sexist, perpetuating a harmful narrative meant to hold women against their will and at the mercy of men, and in complete disregard of consent.

The Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA) said: It is truly disheartening that a leader, specifically an EALA representative, would be perceived as endorsing rape, as well as potentially promoting a culture of false imprisonment and abduction within his own business establishment.”

“Statements such as "Many girls have eaten fare and changed their mind" is not only sexist and depraved, but it is also misogynistic. The utterances not only perpetuate harmful stereotypes but also contribute to the normalization of gender-based violence and discrimination against women and they should never be tolerated or rationalized under any circumstances,” said FIDA Kenya Chairperson Nancy Ikinu in a statement on Wednesday, June 14.

National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) termed the incident appalling, calling for investigations into acts taking place within the Osim country lodge.

“Such statements not only perpetuate harmful attitudes but also contribute to a culture of violence and objectification. We unequivocally condemn this repugnant marketing pitch and demand full accountability for Sankok's actions,” NGEC chairperson Joyce Mutinda said.

The activists are now demanding that Sankok issues a public apology, acknowledges his mistake, and pull down the video.

The Coalition Against Sexual Violence has also called upon the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) to begin investigations into other establishments abetting rape culture in the guise of lodges and accommodation joints, and those found culpable, be held responsible.

“This statement and the subsequent discussions surrounding it are a stark reminder of how deeply ingrained patriarchy still is in our society. The concept of consent is clearly not understood by many, and respect for women and their right to be free from violence is seen as a mere favor.”

Secretary of the Narok County Assembly Women Caucus Sintei Nchoe said: “We also demand that Sankok pulls down the offending video from all social media and other platforms and that he issues an unconditional apology with the same prominence and circulation as the offending video.

She also called for a boycott of the lodge, saying, “We advise all women and girls to stay safe and avoid Osim Country Lodge because their safety and security are clearly threatened.”