Shailja Patel returned to Kenya a few weeks ago, she told me mainly to take a much needed break. She is a renown poet and follows the issues of her activism with verve. She is committed. She is resilient.
She has been there for many in need. Even if she were not all these things....and nobody knew her...what she states below hurts tremendously. That she was sexually assaulted by one we know and love also as a poet is incredible but here is her statement.
One big concern in the world is how a woman is seen to be and understood in society. There has been a trend of slaying sure voices in Kenya. Yes, there are many voices of men saying that women want to much but what has been before that? Total deprivation of justice in innumerable cases. Customs and cultures condone so much injustice for women.
We speak about these things and write about them. We run to places where a victim cries out long before she becomes a survivor we must also hasten here even if it hurts. It appears clear to me that silence also in these spaces where I normally call for justice is not an answer. May this shed a new light on facing issues of the body in Kenya.
Commission of, attempts and indeed if we could we would put in intentions, desires must be condemned to the highest degree possible. Women have much to tell in this regard.
"When a man invades a woman's body space without her invitation, touches, grabs and gropes her without her consent, he violates her sovereignty of person. He evicts her from her own body. Our bodies are our first homes. If we are not safe in our bodies, we are always homeless!" Shailja Patel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SEXUAL VIOLENCE COMMITTED BY TONY MOCHAMA UPON THE PERSON OF SHAILJA PATELDate: Thursday September 25Contact: Ann Njogu, Chair, CREAW, Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness for WomenMobile: 0722 768 381On Saturday September 20th, Standard Group journalist Mr. Tony Mochama committed an indecent act upon the person of poet and activist Shailja Patel, at a gathering in the home of Professor Wambui Mwangi in Spring Valley, Nairobi.Today at 12 noon, Ms. Patel filed a police report at Spring Valley Police Station. She was accompanied by her lawyer Ann Njogu, Chair of CREAW (Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness for Women), High Court Advocate Betty Kaari Murungi, Executive Director of COVAW Joan Nyanyuki, representatives from FIDA, and friends and supporters.Ms. Patel had previously stated that she would seek restorative community justice rather than engaging the judicial system. Following consultation with civil society colleagues and consideration of all parties involved, she decided to file a police report for the following reasons.1) To facilitate the need for corroboration, substantiation, triangulation.2) To support decades of work by Kenya's women's movement to improve reporting procedures for SGBV survivors.3) To move forward policy and practice on on sexual violence in public life on the basis of evidence.4) "The women's movement has fought hard and long for sexual violence to be treated like the crime that it is. We must uphold that struggle by being as rigorous as possible when we make our claims and the demands thereof." - Muthoni WanyekiMs. Patel said:"Each time a man sexually harasses or assaults a woman with no consequences, he is emboldened to repeat and escalate that behaviour. It becomes a pattern. Sexual predators are not born; they are the product of patriarchies and rape cultures that teach men they are entitled to the bodies of all women."When a man invades a woman's body space without her invitation, touches, grabs and gropes her without her consent, he violates her sovereignty of person. He evicts her from her own body. Our bodies are our first homes. If we are not safe in our bodies, we are always homeless."Let us stand with all victims and survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Let us create a society where sexual violence is unknown."END
- - -Shailja Patel
Bookings:Katya Min at The Lecture Bureau