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Free to Speak – What More Could I ask for?

Woman Shouting

“If you continue like this, you will never find a husband,” said Janet as we entered the lecture hall for our afternoon classes. This was during our third year at the University. I dismissed her comment and proceeded to find a seat, wishing I didn’t have to sit through a 4 hour, monotonous lecture on environmental planning; not today, at least.

You see, earlier in the day, I had gotten into a physical “fight” with a male member of my class. The reason why the word fight is in quotes is that he hit me first: Now I feel like a 4 year old ratting out her older brother! The “gentleman” in question and I had disagreed on a trivial matter that I cannot for the life of me remember, no matter how hard I try. What I haven’t forgotten, however, is what happened 30 seconds into the disagreement: He slapped me.

Immediately his hand touched my skin, it occurred to me what sort of a society I lived in: A society that had no qualms punishing women for speaking out. This realization came as a surprise because in my opinion, Kenya wasn’t a country where violence against women was rampant. I had heard and read of worse places where gender based violence was not only condoned but also encouraged. Unfortunately, I had deluded myself; Kenya was just as bad as any other place. In fact, a closer investigation into the matter revealed that at least 49% of all the women in Kenya were going to experience gender based violence at some point in their lives.

That’s when I began looking for ways to speak out against gender based violence preferably, without getting beaten in the process! I took classes on gender, poverty and development in a bid to understand why gender based violence was more prevalent in poor countries. However, one day as I was visiting a popular social networking site, I saw that someone had made a comment on gender equality in Kenya. On reading her profile, I found a link to her blog which led me to discover that she was also very passionate about women empowerment. I then sent her a message telling her how much I loved her blog, which, I must say, felt a bit weird because this particular site was, more or less, a dating site.

After some time, she replied to my message and sent me a link to a website where, in her words, “women could speak their minds freely without fear of violence”: That’s how I ended up on World Pulse. I made contact one day with a stranger through a web 2.0 application and she showed me the way.

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Comments

Potter's picture

Wonderful testimony!

I love this story. Have you shared it with the woman who clued you into World Pulse? She would be so proud of you! I wonder if the jerk who slapped you will ever know what he started? I doubt he intended to open doors for you, (and for other women), but in fact, because you took charge, that is exactly what happened. Hooray for you!

Grace Wanene's picture

Much Appreciated

Thanks for reading my story, Potter. Unfortunately, I haven't been in contact with the woman who told me about World Pulse for quite sometime. However, I'll make an effort to let her know that she changed my life.

Kind Regards,
Grace

sahar's picture

Interesting , inspiring and

Interesting , inspiring and influencing !

We are all in the same bout . Sexual and Gender based violence has become the world most significant issue for women , especially in our part of the world (third world countries).

Sincerely

Sahar Nuraddin

follow me @snuraddin
--------------
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
- Helen Keller

Grace Wanene's picture

Join Hands

Hi Sahar,

Thanks for reading my post. We should all join hands to fight gender based violence.

Kind Regards,
Grace

Hannah B's picture

great story!

Thank you for sharing your experiences in Kenya and your thoughts with all of us!
I am happy that you are finding ways to speak your mind and to share with other women in finding safe ways to talk about gender based violence. It is so sad that it is SO widespread.... mostly I feel fortunate to live in the U.S. because I am very free to speak and move around here as a woman, but then sometimes something awful happens to me or one of my friends, at the hands on a man, and I realize how much all women across the world need to support each other and know that we have much in common because of our gender.
Good luck with everything, and keep speaking out!

Grace Wanene's picture

Spread the Word

Thanks Hannah for taking the time to read my post. I believe the reason why gender based violence is yet to be eradicated is because many women walk around oblivious of its existence until that fateful day when it decides to rear its ugly head in their lives. Lets all join hands and spread the word about this evil.

Kind Regards,
Grace

LauraB's picture

tying personal with political

Hi Grace,

I really enjoy journal entries in which the personal is tied to the political; in your case the connection is clear and visceral. Pretty cool how you turned a violent event into a search for truth. From my experience on WorldPulse, that's exactly the kind of voice that is needed for VOF.

I liked your writing style- phrases like - "in a bid to understand" and your starting with a quote, “If you continue like this, you will never find a husband,” And the use of data - 9% of all the women in Kenya were going to experience gender based violence at some point in their lives. This makes me want to learn what the global statistics on gender violence is and what they are in the U.S. (where I live)

See, your journal pushed me to that point of wanting more and making me curious to go hunting for further information.

That's the kind of writing that keeps me coming back!
Nicely done and keep telling your story.

Best to you,

- Laura

Grace Wanene's picture

Thanks a Lot Laura

I'm grateful that you took the time to read my post and comment on it. I'm also very grateful for your compliments. I was trying to sneak some statistics into my story, hence the 49%, without boring everyone to death. I'm glad it worked! I wish you all the best as you hunt for information regarding gender based violence in your country. Thanks again.

Kind Regards,
Grace

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