|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Kenyan lesbian recounts horrific incident
It started like a typical Sunday with me waking up at four in the afternoon to go to the neighbourhood shop to buy airtime.
As I waved my partner goodbye, my biggest concern was the hangover I was nursing after spending the previous night in a strip club where my girlfriend works. As I strolled to the shop with my friend little did we know what awaited us. When we go to there we didn’t think much of the group of men who were seated across the road. We assumed they were watu wa mjengo (construction people) resting. As I waited my turn to buy the airtime one of the men crossed the road and came to where we stood. Recognising him I asked him why his friends always hurl insults at us and comment on how we dress when we walk past the construction site. He did not take my question kindly and started arguing with us and saying he was disgusted by the way we dress. As the argument got more heated we decided to ignore him but this only enraged him.
The other men who had who had been following what was happening crossed the road and confronted us. ‘Why do you pretend to be men yet you are girls,’ one of them angrily asked as he pushed me. I moved out of his way but as one of the men explained that they usually discuss our dress code because they are curious whether we are men or women. ‘Nyinyi ni wanaume ama wanawake (Are you people men or women?),’ another man asked . Boldly I said we were women but they did not like my answer. ‘Pigana na mmoja wetu juu unajifanya unajua vita sana……na upigane kama mwanaume. Unajiskia kama mwanaume vita pia ni ya wanaume……(Fight with one of us because you pretend you know how to fight………and you fight like a man...),’ one of the men told me. My friend pulled me away but as another man punched me on the face. It hurt so bad that I couldn’t move my jaw!
He then pushed and head butted me. The pain was indescribable and as I tried to escape I saw a bottle of soda in the hands of one of his friends. The only option was for me to fight back. I took the bottle, banged it on the wall behind me and the next thing I realised was that I had cut the guy on the jaw. “Shocked, scared and I froze.. ‘Umekata huyu mjamaa (You’ve cut this guy)’, my friend shouted and as she tried pulling me away from my attackers - the gang of about 20 men in vain. Some hit me, abused me and tore my clothes while others shouted, ‘Leo utajua kuishii na wanaume vizuri (today you’ll know how to live with men).’
One of my attackers choked me. As the situation ran out of control, my friend ran for help. I hit back wildly, hoping to keep my attackers at bay.
After what seemed like an eternity my friend returned with my girlfriend. When I realised she had returned alone I almost resigned to my fate. But I soon learnt that my girlfriend had not abandoned me when my friend reached into my pocket searching for the gate key. As the mob rained blows on and cursed me, she rushed back to my place. Even when the crowd pushed me to the ground I picked myself up for I was determined to go down fighting. With my clothes all torn and covered in blood I feared that the gang would carry out its threat of raping me to ‘make me feel like a woman.
I saw an escape root and I run for my life……. Into my neighbour’s pub where she ushered me in through the back and locked the door.I thanked God I for escaping with my life. After two weeks away from home I thought of moving out to a new place because my attackers promised to make sure that I end up six feet under.But I am grateful to my girlfriend, mother an friend for being supportive and helping me pull through the ordeal.
**Githinji is a Kenyan lesbian. This story is based on real events.