Hey, Hey Hunnies,
Gather around, lets talk…How do you survive being a woman in Nairobi?
It’s a Saturday morning I have a couple of errands to ran in town so am picking out my OOTD and I realize that, like clock work the first piece I always reach for is a pair of jeans. Why? it feels safer to me. It draws less attention plus I can run if need be! This, though developed unconsciously is one of my tactics of surviving Nairobi. What’s worse is I can’t even dare pair it up with a camisole without a coat for the fear of someone unceremoniously grabbing my boob or spanking my ass in the streets for the sheer fun of it. I realized that my outfit choices are heavily influenced by normalized gender based violence in these streets of Nairobi. I cannot wear a miniskirt (short is relative) when using public means of transport because God forbid, I get to the stage and the touts decide am indecently dressed and just strip you naked, remember my dress my choice? Wear a cute skater dress and someone is flipping it up in the streets exposing your body for all and sundry to see and others even cheering him on.
Being a woman is an extreme sport to be quite honest and more so now with femicide being on the rise. Whenever I am getting on a lift in a building, I quickly look around to see how many women are in there and if I am the only one, I will run out pretending to have forgotten something. The same applies in case I board a matatu and am the only woman I will alight at the next stop or immediately if possible, especially if it is night time. Also, some people look suspicious so even during the day don’t let your guard down. Remember if something feels off, it is!
Another survival tactic is whenever I take a cab, I make sure to inform someone you know just in case! You can never be too careful because we are not acting from paranoia rather from previous bad experiences or that of people we know or knew.
Cat calling is uncomfortable and causes anxiety especially when you are about to pass a group of guys. I have learnt to simply be nice, smile, wave and go along with their mostly sexual advances no matter how degrading it is lest you get abused or even attacked simply for not saying ‘thank you’ to those obviously derisive comments. It is exhausting living in constant fear of the same people who are supposed to love and protect us. We go through a lot most of which is pegged as normal day to day occurrence in the streets.
If you are a man and are reading this, start the conversation among your friends, don’t entertain cat calling, call out your physically or otherwise abusive friends because you know them and you talk about it in hashed tones. Your friends, sisters, girlfriends and wives are all affected in one way or the other and are counting on you to stand with them to put an end to harassment and gender-based violence.
What are the tactics you use to survive in Nairobi as a woman please share below lets help each other stay safe and Alive.
As always thanks for reading loves, please share and lets keep the conversation going.