#MyDressMyChoice: The day we defeated silence

In Nairobi, Kenya, women are demanding respect.

They want to re-claim their bodies.

They are condemning the humiliating public stripping of three Kenyan women earlier in the month.

On this day, 17th November, 2014, many took to Nairobi streets – and marched from Uhuru Park (in the city’s CBD ) to the Embassava Sacco bus stage on Accra Road, where a mob had been filmed ripping off a woman’s clothes.

In the last one year, ten women have been stripped in public, for something that was described as ‘indecent’ dressing.

The mobilisation for the protest started through social media under the hashtag #MyDressMyChoice

Brian took photos. Ngala wrote.

This photo-essay is a narrative of the protest.

At Freedom Corner, protest organisers are reading a statement to the media. This about 11.00 AM.

At Freedom Corner, protest organisers are reading a statement to the media. This about 11.00 AM.

The protest march proceeds through the city centre. This is about 11:45 AM.

The protest march proceeds through the city centre. This is about 11:45 AM.

Our bodies, our choices. Protestors dancing during the protest march. This is about 12: 00 noon.

Our bodies, our choices. Protestors dancing during the protest march. This is about 12: 00 noon.

The adorning of mini-skirts formed part of the protest. Women want to have the choice to exercise bodily autonomy, and feel comfortable in dressing of their own choice. This is about 12: 00 noon.

The adorning of mini-skirts formed part of the protest. Women want to have the choice to exercise bodily autonomy, and feel comfortable in dressing of their own choice. This is about 12: 00 noon.

My body is not your battlefield. This is about 12: 00 noon.

My body is not your battlefield. This is about 12: 00 noon.

We demand dignity, respect and justice for all. Protestors chanting ‘My dress, My Choice’ across the streets of Nairobi.  This is about 12:30 PM.

We demand dignity, respect and justice for all. Protestors chanting ‘My dress, My Choice’ across the streets of Nairobi. This is about 12:30 PM.

The harming of one woman harms us all. This is about 12: 30 PM.

The harming of one woman harms us all. This is about 12: 30 PM.

No society that oppresses women is a civilised society. Protestors make a stand against gender-based violence. This is 12: 45 PM.

No society that oppresses women is a civilised society. Protestors make a stand against gender-based violence. This is 12: 45 PM.

Protestors refuse to tire. This is about 12: 50 PM.

Protestors refuse to tire. This is about 12: 50 PM.

11 12 13 14

Protest has arrived and sets camp near Embassava Sacco bus stage, where the public stripping of a woman’s clothes took place recently. This is about 1: 00 PM.

Protest has arrived and sets camp near Embassava Sacco bus stage, where the public stripping of a woman’s clothes took place recently. This is about 1: 00 PM.

“SHAME ON YOU”! An angry protestor stops an Embassava Sacco bus. This is about 1: 05 PM.

“SHAME ON YOU”! An angry protestor stops an Embassava Sacco bus. This is about 1: 05 PM.

“SHAME ON YOU”! Stopping Embassava. This is about 1: 07 PM.

“SHAME ON YOU”! Stopping Embassava. This is about 1: 07 PM.

On Tom Mboya Street, tension is beginning to build up. This is about 1: 15 pm.

On Tom Mboya Street, tension is beginning to build up. This is about 1: 15 pm.

A scuffle and a counter-protest are quickly developing. This is about 1: 17 PM.

A scuffle and a counter-protest are quickly developing. This is about 1: 17 PM.

Counter-protestors, the majority of whom are men, have come with the bible. This is about 1: 30 PM.

Counter-protestors, the majority of whom are men, have come with the bible. This is about 1: 30 PM.

Counter-protestors are threatening to strip us naked while the police stand and watch. This is about 1: 45 PM.

Counter-protestors are threatening to strip us naked while the police stand and watch. This is about 1: 45 PM.

Counter-protestors are defending patriarchy with bible verses. This is about 1: 50 PM.

Counter-protestors are defending patriarchy with bible verses. This is about 1: 50 PM.

Counter-protestors are getting violent. They have forcefully taken one of our banners, and some are groping women. This is about 2: 00 P.M.

Counter-protestors are getting violent. They have forcefully taken one of our banners, and some are groping women. This is about 2: 00 P.M.

One woman, a counter-protestor, invokes culture and religion, demanding that women dress decently. This is about 2: 10 PM.

Society is at war with itself. Despite the counter-protest, we press on. This is about 2: 15 PM.

Society is at war with itself. Despite the counter-protest, we press on. This is about 2: 15 PM.

We make our stand outside the Supreme Court of Kenya. This is about 2: 30 PM.

We make our stand outside the Supreme Court of Kenya. This is about 2: 30 PM.

The Chief Justice of Kenya, Dr. Willy Mutunga (centre), receives the petition. He promises that justice to the victims shall be realised. This is about 2: 35 PM.

The Chief Justice of Kenya, Dr. Willy Mutunga (centre), receives the petition. He promises that justice to the victims shall be realised. This is about 2: 35 PM.

 

History will judge you by your inaction. The protest is successful. A statement has been made. This is about 2: 50 PM.

History will judge you by your inaction. The protest is successful. A statement has been made. This is about 2:50PM.

This day silence we defeated.

This day silence we defeated.

#MyDressMyChoice Silence shall no longer be a woman.

 

There is an online petition calling on the President of Kenya to take action. Click here to add your voice.

 

This piece is the first in a multi-part series on Routes about patriarchal control of women’s bodies. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Brian Inganga is an award-winning photographer and humanitarian worker. Brian is also the co-founder of Change Mtaani CBO in Kibera Slums, Nairobi, and he works at PAWA 254.

 

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