After a video of a Kenyan woman being assaulted by motorbike taxi drivers has gone viral, hundreds of women in the capital Nairobi gathered outside the police headquarters in protest, demanding more stringent control of the bikers.
On Friday, a video surfaced of a woman being groped and surrounded by a group of so-called ‘boda boda’ drivers while in her car on a crowded street in the capital – with the clip going viral on social media and sparking public outrage.
Campaigners are demanding boda bodas – which refers to a motorbike or bicycle used as a taxi to transport a passenger or items – are registered and subjected to proper checks and controls.
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, a state-run media outlet, said the incident involved a group, which included boda boda drivers, stripping the woman of her clothes and molesting her as she “screamed helplessly”.
Some 16 people have been arrested for assaulting a female motorist following the incident, the media outlet reports.
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta said on Tuesday that he had ordered a crackdown and a census of motorbike taxis across the country while radio station Capital FM quoted police chief Hilary Mutyambai saying that officers had arrested more than 220 riders and seized at least 900 bikes.
An online Change.org petition demanding boda bodas are subjected to more stringent controls in Kenya has amassed more than 214,000 signatures.
Judy Gitau, Africa regional coordinator at Equality Now, an NGO, told The Independent: “This heinous incident is a stark reminder that despite the progress we have made towards gender equality as a country, we still have a long way to go.
“That whereas we have women occupying the highest offices in this land the default setting of a group of men in response to an accident is to attack a helpless young woman in a pack at her core, to attack her person, her dignity, sexually assault her with no regard whatsoever. This tells us that the problem is deeper.
“Those men must be arrested and prosecuted and we as a society must take a look at ourselves, our values and norms and change.”
The authorities in Kenya previously reported cases of sexual violence have surged in the wake of the pandemic. Last year, the health ministry revealed it has seen reports of at least 5,000 cases of sexual aggression across the country, with this routinely taking place in impoverished parts of Kenya.
Susan Otieno, ActionAid Kenya’s executive director, told The Independent that her organisation has “made huge strides” working with impoverished women and girls struggling to subsist and battling with “exclusion”.
The organisation has endeavoured to tackle “unequal power relations to end gender-based violence in public and private spaces”, she said.
The campaigner added: “The event involving blatant sexual harassment of a woman along Forest road, which was witnessed by hundreds, if not millions, of Kenyans, is a disregard of the rights of women all over Kenya.
“This event is just one of the many incidents of violence that women and girls have faced both in public and private spaces and should not be taken lightly”. (Source: Independent UK)