[Documents menu]  Documents menu

Fury At Attacks Against Women

The Nation (Nairobi), 24 October 2000

Nairobi - Various institutions and individuals yesterday strenuously condemned attacks and harassment meted out on women by members of the Mungiki sect in Nairobi at the weekend.

The sect members turned rowdy after police barred them from holding prayers on the Kayole Estate on Sunday. They vented their anger on women passersby dressed in trousers.

Yesterday, the National Convention Executive Council, the Federation of Women Lawyers and the Kenya Women's Political Caucus condemned the thuggery as shameful and shocking, and called for the arrest of those involved in the attack.

The NCEC also condemned Mungiki's attacks against some sections of the Christian Church and the Freemasons.

"Whereas the NCEC respects and defends the right of Mungiki and its voluntary followers to practice their religion as they please, we also believe that our society should neither accept nor tolerate the intrusion and abuse of the rights, liberties and dignity of other Kenyans by any group, creed, religion or cult," the group said in a statement signed by three officials.

The council asked Kenyans to reject acts of violence regardless of the perpetrators.

"Mungiki or anybody else cannot arrogate to themselves the role of moral, dress or cultural policemen," the statement said.

It added that African tradition respects and venerates women, contrary to the view Mungiki is pushing.

The statement, signed by Kepta Ombati, Odhiambo Oyoko and Cyprian O'Nyamwamu, asked Kenyans to reject all acts of violence "in their various manifestations".

In a statement signed by Mrs Phoebe Asiyo, the Kenya Women's Political Caucus described the Mungiki actions as dehumanising and a gross violation of the women's human rights.

"We note with deep concern that the Mungiki sect has continuously engaged in these primitive, barbaric and heinous activities with impunity, culminating in this latest incident," said Mrs Asiyo.

The Caucus urged the Police Commissioner to intervene and ensure women are protected from such "callous behaviour".

Fida demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of those involved in the assault.

"While members of Mungiki should enjoy the freedom of association, they must, however, not be allowed to terrorise and impose their will on innocent members of society," Fida executive director Jane Kiragu said.

Failure to arrest the suspects, Ms Kiragu said, would be to abet heinous acts of violence.

The Mungiki group arrived in the Kayole area at about 5pm on Sunday, but police attempted to disperse them. They overpowered the officers and started stripping and beating the women.

Some women members of the sect were in the forefront of the attack.