Her spinal cord was broken. Her essence violated. She had cervical fractures. Raped. Her life lost. Velvine Nungari. A waitress from Nairobi's Kahawa West area. She will serve food no more. A 24-year old young lady who will not walk down the streets again or walk down the aisle on her big day.
At about this same period that Velvine’s life was being brutalized, a three-year old girl in Kitui, lower-Eastern Kenya, was also raped and murdered. Her brief life snuffed out. She will never sit in a grade 1 class. She too, will never walk down the street, running errands and living her life. Unlike Velvine, her demise never filtered into mainstream media. But she must live on in our hearts.
Every single day, multiple rape cases are reported in multiple locations around the world. Many more rapes are never even reported. Those women and in some cases men, especially young boys, suffer in silence; alone and lonely in their agony. Also untold are are lewd, rude remarks plus unwanted touches that women suffer in silence.
A World Health Organization Report released in March this year revealed that, ‘Worldwide, almost one third (27%) of women aged 15-49 years who have been in a relationship report that they have been subjected to some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.’ Shocking, right? A big percentage of sexual violence against women is not from strangers but from their own intimate partners!
A time has come for men - fathers, brothers, sons, cousins, neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances, strangers - to step up and take responsibility. Take full responsibility for the wellbeing of the women in their world and then the women of the world.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr said that ‘in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ Men must be on the forefront of speaking out on violence against women. Their silence empowers rapists. Their silence gives voice to the lewd, rude voices that are hurled at women every single hour. Their silence fuels those unwanted touches that descend on women every single hour.
And so we cannot be silent any more. We must say so when a fellow man harms a woman, either by his words or his actions. Or even his attitude. But more than words, we must take action. That action starts with the man in the mirror. It starts with YOU. Be a real man who respects and cherishes the women in your world even if they are strangers that you encounter for the briefest of moments.
Bro code doesn’t mean turning a deaf ear or a blind eye when the perpetrator is your boy. Real bro code means opening your ears and eyes, especially when the perpetrator is your boy. Real bro code is a brotherhood that treats every woman as a princess even when she is not your princess. Real bro code is a brotherhood that treats every woman as a partner in the bigger journey of life, even when she is not your life’s partner. Real bro code is a brotherhood that understands that when a woman says no, she means it. Real bro code starts with YOU ensuring that the man in the mirror must take responsibility for his actions and treats all women with respect. Real bro code must be a cord that protects and cherishes women instead of constricting them and consigning them to a life of fear.
Real bro code turns women into victors, not victims.