One wonders don’t all human beings deserve an equal right- regardless of gender, caste, colour or creed- to have the freedom to lead their lives the way they wish to? But sadly, people are often castrated, undone and stripped off of their liberty, of their basic values and desires to lead a harmless, quiet and peaceful life.
Across the world, one has seen taboos and old, conniving practices, ill-fated customs and baseless beliefs ripping apart societies and laying bare the sheer vulnerability of a human life when probed and scanned through the mirror of dirty customs. Kenya is one such nation state that comes to the mind when one speaks of a modern, progressive society still continuously pursuing with mindless practices, deeply rooted in the culture in a rather inexplicable way.
If you are aware of Kenya, then probably the African state resonates with people where Nairobi’s thriving urban culture, booming economy and a growing real estate are concerned. Probably, people are too enchanted or caught up with the idea of Kenya’s safari experiences giving tourists all that one can seek when travelling to this part of the world.
But what about abominable, hurtful and absolutely murky practices like widow-cleansing? Ever heard of it? Are you aware what widow-cleansing means? Apparently, deep in the heart of Kenyan hinterland where excessive poverty and lack of education run rampant- widow cleansing has ravaged more lives than a natural calamity ever will.
In Kenya, it is common to find widows compulsively forced to have intercourse with strangers; men with whom they have no relations or bonds or any sort of communication whatsoever. That the man will ‘cleanse’ a widow of emotional torment in her life is what is widely described by the world as widow-cleansing. The practice runs rampant in Western Kenya’s Luo ethnic communities.
But not only is the act immoral on mental, emotional grounds, it is also utterly devastating on physical grounds. The men with whom the widows are forced to have intercourse with are often inflicted with HIV and they indulge in the act unprotected. Where does that leave Kenya’s hapless, helpless mothers and former wives (now widows)?
In the luo community, is the men who take most decisions. Their dominance runs free and is absolute. If women deny the strange, inhuman request, they are dubbed as ‘disobedient’. No matter where modern Kenya has reached in its journey from dire poverty to economic development, with socio-cultural evils like widow cleansing- that bats the idea for a man cleansing the woman of ‘impurities in the wake of a husband’s death’ around- the condition of women still rest on a brutal knife’s edge. The question is, can anyone rush to their rescue?