The last few months have been full of anxiety and worry. It is unfortunate that even in this year we still have to struggle to advocate for certain minority groups to access their basic human rights. Recently I had the took part in conversation about sexual violence and how it affects us, especially minority groups that are not necessarily protected such as sex workers and the queer community.
I was in a heated argument with one of the men in the audience who was blatantly showing his bigotry and misogyny in his comments and I kept calling him out. Another man in the audience then asked me to be patient with him and take the time to explain my politics and feminism to him rather than just outright calling him out. It took all the calm in me to answer him rationally and tell him that I had neither the time nor the patience to teach these things to men; especially in an age where we as feminists share and talk about our ideologies and politics so openly on various platforms including social media. The resources are out there; feminists have been doing and continue to do the work daily. It is therefore unfair for men to argue asking for us to teach them just because they do not want to do the work and feel that they must be spoon-fed with this information.
I strongly believe that this is purposefully aimed at slowing down feminists and wasting our time. We honestly do not have the luxury to take a step back to teach feminism whilst we are still fighting for certain minority groups to access their basic human rights as well as justice. It is 2019 and feminists have made it easier than ever to access information on human rights and feminism without being burdened to teach. We are already too burdened by the struggle to secure our rights to exercise patience with those hell-bent to deny us of our humanity.
In February, queer Kenyans were filled with anxiety anticipating the outcome of the court case on the decriminalization of same sex sexual relationships otherwise dubbed as acts against the order of nature. The hashtags #repeal162 and #repeal165 trended as the LGBTQIA+ community, queer allies and human rights activists anticipated the repeal of these provisions as stipulated in the penal code of Kenya. It is unfair that queer persons still have to fight to be granted their human rights, as if being queer strips them of their humanity.
On 22nd February, the queer community showed up and filled the court hoping for a favourable ruling but still being ready in case of a negative one. However, much to everyone’s dismay, the judges stated that they simply couldn’t come to a decision and therefore needed more time and pushed for a hearing a few months away. This completely broke my heart because as a queer community, we simply do not have the luxury of patience. The postponing of this ruling is horrible because as we wait, we still continue to face discrimination and violence. And in the event of experiencing this, we cannot seek justice because our rights are not guaranteed in the first place. Delayed justice is injustice in itself.
I have been thinking a lot about the urgent need for decriminalization of sex work and same sex relationships because these are two minority groups that face a lot of violence and have no platform to seek redress or justice. For as long as their existence is still criminalized in this country, people will continue to abuse us and get away with it.
Through my work on sensitivity trainings on handling survivors of sexual violence I realized that more often than not, when the survivors of sexual violence are sex workers or LGBTQIA+ persons, they do not get the same treatment and help. There are no avenues for them to find healing and access justice.
We do not have the luxury of patience. We cannot sit around and wait for a few judges to tell us that our existence is valid and that our rights matter too.
Nyaguthii is a lesbian activist from Nairobi who focuses on African Feminism, Sexual & Gender Based Violence, Queer Rights as well as mental health. She is also a mom and a Christian. She works for She Matters Tribe which is an organization aimed at providing support and justice to survivors of sexual violence.