So we need to talk about consent…

Recently, two Kenyan gospel artists DK Kwenye Beat and Ringtone gospel artistes were accused of rape. Though they denied to accusations at first, they later gave carefully worded statements seeking forgiveness for having fallen short, never mind what the victim of their actions had been through. Before long a youth pastor was also outed on Twitter for trying to coerce school girls to have sex with him. The reaction both online and off has been one of shock. Many are of the opinion that girls need to be taught not to idolise people on the pulpit or those with celebrity stature and so on, NTV cited the need for mentorship in church,but aren’t these the same people tasked with mentoring youth? If anything, a conversation that needs to be had both in church and school is the issue of consent.

As early as primary school, I remember boys joking about ” if a girl says no she means yes”. We were in Standard Five. Granted these kids did not really and truly understand the implication of what they were saying but it’s scary to think that it starts these young. In essence they are being taught that a woman cannot be trusted, that her ‘No’ is a coy way of saying maybe or yes, that they have a right to her body or property.

While we may talk about teaching young people not to be wowed by celebrity or charisma, what we really need to start doing (and start while they are young) is teaching children what consent means, yes even in the playground. If a pre-school boy keeps picking on a girl in the same class and driving her to tears do not tell her it’s because he likes her (and vice versa). Our society is set up in a way that rewards boys for “conquests” while for girls, the idea that you are beholden for men especially those in leadership or who are older is also perpetuated from a young age.

Consent shouldn’t be something we shy away from but rather something that is openly embraced in classrooms nationwide. This is just one issue, there are many other issues to tackle such as the culture of silencing and victim shaming, sexual conduct policies in schools and religious institutions and so on. Will the #MeToo movement ever take place in Kenya on the scale of what we have seen internationally? We will have to wait and see.

This Thames Valley Police video explains consent in a simple enough manner that it can be shared with adolescents and pre-teens.

For further recommended reading:


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