It's time to call out politicians using sexist language

Microphone. Cases of sexual harassment against women, especially politicians, are on the rise and perpetrators must be called out.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • For those who have been captured on camera or posted them on social media, their statements are despicable they cannot even be paraphrased to meet editorial guidelines or code of ethics.
  • Political leaders are in the top hierarchy of agents fronted to push against GBV under the UN Women-led global Generation Equality campaign.

Since 2020 when politicians set off into full gear of campaigns, many across the country have thrown unrecorded sexist remarks against women rivals.

For those who have been captured on camera or posted them on social media, their statements are despicable. They cannot even be paraphrased to meet editorial guidelines or code of ethics.

It's time to call them out considering that political leaders are in the top hierarchy of agents fronted to advance the push against gender-based violence under the UN Women-led global Generation Equality campaign.

Mental health experts warn that sexual violence is prevalent in communities that glorify gender stereotypes.

“Sexual violence is likely to occur more commonly in cultures that foster beliefs of perceived male superiority and social and cultural inferiority of women,” wrote psychiatrists Gurvinder Kalra and Dinesh Bhugra in a joint 2013 journal article on Indian Journal of  Psychiatry.


Mr Edwin Sifuna, secretary-general of Orange Democratic Movement(ODM) party, has been a notorious candidate in spewing sexist remarks. His tongue and thoughts seem to be on speed dial in throwing about discriminatory notes on women.

In December 2020 at a rally in Msambweni, Kwale County, at the sunset of the parliamentary by-election campaigns, he despicably said Malindi Member of Parliament (MP) Aisha Jumwa was not a good fit for rape.

He went on to make disgusting references and comparisons to an extent of asking a woman, whom he presumed to meet the standards, to stand for the crowd to see her.

Well, he later said the rape remarks were regrettable after recording a statement with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

Ms Jumwa, who, at the time, had decamped from ODM to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), had earlier made claims of her political rivals’ intention to rape her at a rally in Msambweni. The claims were also crowned with some unprintable remarks. Her apology also came after she recorded a statement with the NCIC, which, to date, has not taken any action against both of them.

Then came the ODM National Delegates Convention last February at Kasarani Gymnasium. Then-presidential hopeful and businessman Jimi Wanjigi attended but was accosted by youths, forcing him to take cover in Kasarani Stadium Police Station.

Mr Sifuna was captured on camera confronting the police. He was demanding they eject him. He sought to know why he was there in the first place. But an angry cop told him to go ask Mr Wanjigi for he was within the vicinity.

Without a thought, Mr Sifuna retorted: “I can’t even reach him, si amejifungia kwa choo huko kama msichana (he has locked himself in the toilet like a girl).

This is an extreme form of gender stereotyping as there is no connection between being a woman and locking oneself in a washroom. This implies his twisted perception of women. And this also manifested on June 27 at the heat of pre-zoning politics in Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party.

Mr Sifuna insisted that Azimio would field Anthony Oluoch for Mathare parliamentary seat and so Jubilee candidate Kelvin Kioko, alias Bahati, should shelve his ambitions. But Bahati, a musician, stood his ground.

Mr Sifuna was to later tweet: “Hio kijana ya kulia lia nitachukua apology yake kwa Diana personally (sic),” which translates into: “I will personally take the apology of that crybaby to Diana.” Diana is Bahati’s wife.

While his language is utterly disrespectful, dragging his wife into his political woes is stretching a bias towards women’s freedom of choice too far. He failed to disassociate her from her husband’s political career and respect her right to privacy.

Mr Babu Owino, Embakasi East MP, has equally been a letdown in ending discrimination against women.

In 2020 when Kandara MP Alice Wahome criticised President Uhuru Kenyatta for poor leadership, Mr Owino called her out in a sexist manner. His post on Twitter on Jan 11, 2020 breaks all Nation Media Group editorial ethical guidelines and, therefore, cannot even be paraphrased. It was, by all means, sexual harassment in the eyes of UN Women’s definition of the term.

In 2020, Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi turned to attacking the sexuality of Murang'a Woman Representative Sabina Chege just for leading a demonstration of women in Murang’a demanding an apology from him for insulting Mama Ngina Kenyatta. His abuse was extremely offensive for a paraphrase of the same.

This is the same case for David Ngari, alias Gakuyo. In January, he resorted to insults touching on the bodily anatomy and sexuality of his competitor in the Thika parliamentary race, Alice Ng’ang’a. His remarks were ghastly, yet there would be no harm in him soberly questioning her agenda for residents.

In Nakuru County, the rivalry between Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri and Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, now a UDA gubernatorial candidate in county, has brought out the ugly part of campaign violence.

In a recent video where Mr Ngunjiri is seen addressing journalists, he warned Ms Kihika to keep off him, saying: “I am not married by you, Susan.” What if he asked: “Why should I support you, Susan? What plans do you have for Nakuru residents?” It wouldn’t cost him his seat or candidacy.

Another candidate for censure is Mr Silvanus Osoro, South Mugirango MP. Recently at a rally in Thika town, Kiambu County, he attacked the bodily anatomy and marital status of Martha Karua, the Azimio’s presidential running mate, yet no scientist has so far proved a correlation between great leadership and gender or marital status.