Rape is widespread in Kenya, and elderly women are often the victims. Now women are finding ways to protect themselves in self-defense classes, and even the Kenyan women who are too weak to stand on their own have found a way to protect themselves. They pretend to be crazy.
The charity Ujamaa, which runs the self-defense program in Nairobi, is teaching over 200 elderly women to stun attackers with pokes in the eyes, whacks to the groin, or even by breaking noses, according to Reuters. Dr. Jake Sinclair and his wife, Lee Paiva, both Americans, started the project in 2007 after hearing horrible stories about what was happening to the Kenyan women.
Kenyan grannies, or “cucus,” were being attacked monthly and often murdered. A former resident of one of the most dangerous slums in the capital of Kenya described why the attacks happened to the cucus.
“Boys had crazy ideas that after a robbery, when they sleep with an old woman, it’s like they are cleansed. The young boys would strangle the cucus… Every time we went to pick up the corpse of an old woman, my heart used to bleed.”
Even those too old or too weak to fight back have found tactics which scare attackers off. Some Kenyan elderly women pretend to be crazy and actually move toward the attacker. The surprise movements are not what the attacker expects, so he may leave. Sometimes the women call out to other people when they are alone, pretending they were with someone else and are just temporarily separated.
Now the cucus are teaching younger Kenyan women what they have learned from their self-defense classes. Grandmothers are teaching their young granddaughters how to be prepared for uncertain situations.
Programs designed for men and boys are effective tools to reduce Kenyan rape crimes, too.
According to Reuters, boys and young men who were taught from the “No Means No Worldwide” program were three times more likely to report they’d intervened on a sexual assault on a female than their untrained counterparts.
Dr. Sinclair and Ms. Paiva created the curriculum behind the program to help change male attitudes toward females and to promote gender equality. Importantly, it has also taught males to safely intervene when they see females being assaulted.
Studies have shown that self-defense classes for Kenyan women reduce the number of rapes, and males are able to reduce sexual assaults by intervening when they suspect an assault is about to occur.
[Photo by Reuters]