13 October 2005
I have been rather quiet because am not able to access the blog discussion when I want to. Electricity keeps on going off here in Kampala shutting me off from the internet. I am not aware if this topic has been discussed or not since I haven’t read the blog for a couple of days. My subject is on electoral violence on women. Where I come from, that is, Kenya, we have only 7 percent of women in Parliament. Other countries in the East Africa region such as Uganda and Tanzania have 24 percent and 21 percent respectively. This is because they are applying affirmative action. In Kenya, politics is a dirty game as I guess it is in every country. Women have to be prepared to face both verbal and physical violence when they join politics. The verbal violence can inflict more damage than the physical as the opponents, some who may be fellow women, hit below the belt, many times on assumed crimes. One of the ‘best’ targets is to direct the dirt on the moral virtues of the women. She will be called a prostitute, drunkard, a woman of loose morals, a home breaker etc. If she is divorced the word divorcee will become a dirty word. She cannot campaign in social gatherings in the evening like the men as she will be called a woman of loose morals, ‘tanga tangaring (roaming) the bars. If necessary she will be beaten up to teach her a lesson. Sisters, without mentioning names, some of our women politicians have even been divorced because of their association with politics. Recently in Tanzania, a woman politician was locked in her house and then burnt together with her children for supporting the ruling party. Kenya women politicians have even been threatened with circumcision should they step into the turf of certain male politicians. No one has ever been arrested and charged with such offences. Sisters what strategies can we deploy so that we have a level playing field? Hope that others can pick this issue up and share with us positive experiences from their countries.