'Crazy' Kenyan grannies use tricks to save themselves from rape

Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:57am EDT
 
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By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Cackling manically, the old woman points at a sheepish young man by her side in a poorly-lit tin shack in Korogocho, one of the most dangerous slums in Kenya's capital.

"He wants to sleep with me! He's younger than my son," she said as a dozen elderly women, sitting on wooden benches around her, laugh raucously.

Across Nairobi, more than 200 elderly women, aged up to 105, are learning self defense to protect themselves against rape, which is widespread in Kenya, particularly in its slums.

Research by the charity Ujamaa, which runs the self defense program, shows that one in four women in Korogocho experience sexual assault.

The 'cucus' or grandmas in the local Kikuyu language, learn how to poke assailants in the eyes, whack them in the groin with a walking stick or break their noses with the palm of a hand.

Some of the women are too frail to stand, so feigning madness and other forms of trickery are often the best weapons.

"You act like you are crazy and you go towards the attacker," said Jacqueline Mukami, one of the instructors. "You scare him because this is not the person he expected."

One of the women attending the class was accosted by a young boy while walking home from her vegetable patch.   Continued...

 
Instructors from the Ujamaa self-defence programme train a group of women to protect themselves against rape at the Mukuru Kwa Njenga slum in the capital Nairobi, Kenya, March 16, 2015. Across Nairobi, more than 200 elderly women, aged up to 105, are learning self defence to protect themselves against rape, which is widespread in Kenya, particularly in its slums.  REUTERS/Siegfried Modola