ONEYA: Shame on us for shaming Sharon - Daily Nation

Sharon Otieno: Murder most foul, but our mouths are fouler

Wednesday September 12 2018

Sharon Otieno

Ms Sharon Otieno. She was abducted and murdered in Homa Bay. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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The gruesome abduction and killing of Sharon Otieno has dominated the news in the last week. And why wouldn’t it? Murder and sex were involved, weren’t they?

The story of her death shocked and saddened us in equal measure. Well, most of us. For some, it was an opportunity to Bible-thump and pass judgement on a victim of murder.

We judged a pregnant woman who was suspected to have been raped before her death and who pathologists concluded had been stabbed eight times — four in the back, three in the neck, and once in the left side of her abdomen, leading to excessive bleeding.

We chose to judge this woman. This woman whom a close relative said had her intestines ripped apart by her assailants.

This is what was more saddening for me. Here is a sample of the vile comments on social media:

Give us a break. I can't support immorality. Mshahara wa dhambi ni kifo. God shall punish all who are adulterous .

Kiboko ya Mungu ama ya shetani ndio imechapa Sharon? All are God's plans anyway. RIP comrade

“What did she expect? She was dating a powerful politician, so she knew what was coming.”

“She forgot who she was dealing with.”

“She did not stick to her clande lane.”

It’s hard to believe, but the above examples are the sanitised versions of the words we used to describe the poor pregnant woman.

Some politicians added fuel to the fire when they asked girls to “accept their humble backgrounds and focus on education rather than 'sponsors'.”

Let’s pause for a minute here and examine this statement.

Is it therefore Sharon’s “lack of acceptance of her humble background” that got her murdered? Are there some murders that have caveats? And why is her ‘sponsee’ status even an issue when two innocent lives have been lost?


Lives were lost. Period.

I acknowledge that the legislators noted that murder was "shameful and unaccepted", but the victim-shaming that came before that statement spoke volumes about our collective attitude as a country.

It’s the attitude of the people who ask a rape victim: What were you wearing?

The answer to that question doesn't matter. And if you think it does, then this article is meant to cure you of such misconceptions. Of such a warped view of the world.

In the same regard, "sponsorship", or lack of it, is literally immaterial.

To those judging Sharon: You can’t control a person’s choices but you can control your own feelings. And it’s our duty as humans to be humane. To be compassionate.

Ask yourself: When did being a “sponsored woman” stop one from being a human being? And if death is the ultimate punishment that some say she deserved, then what’s the punishment for the men arraigned over her murder?

And while we are on the subject of death, don’t Christians believe that’s the fate that awaits us all, regardless of our sexual escapades?

The woman, in such illicit affairs, sadly often gets blamed. For seducing the man. For luring the man. For being a woman. And we dehumanise her sometimes when we do this. In my view, we treat the man like a puppet to be manipulated when we do this. We forget that behind that “sponsored woman” label, there are other attributes. Other things that make her a woman worthy of remembrance, if you want.

Sharon was a student. A mother. A former wife. A friend. A daughter.

Herfamily has been through enough stress already. They don’t need our judgement.

If herex-husband, a man with whom she shared a life, chooses not to judge her, then who are we to do so?


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