Why sexual harassment in clubs is unreported
Most cases of the sexual harassment occurring in clubs go unreported and some clubs have proved fertile grounds for such offences, NairobiNews can reveal.
In such matters, clubs prefer to deal with such incidents in-house; without alerting the police to ensure word does not get out to ruin their reputation.
This would beg the question; does the manner in which social clubs handle sexual harassment incidents encourage perpetrators to be bolder and more frequent?
When sexual harassment cases are handled by club managers, the consequences would include the offender being thrown out of a particular club for the night or being banned for good in case of a more serious offence.
Club managers get together to blacklist perpetrators of sexual crimes within a certain radius, ignoring the fact that the perpetrators would change clubs and continue with their bad habits in other joints which are still unaware of their behaviour.
Women, more often than men, fall victim to sexual harassment. This is especially in the CBD, Westlands and Eastlands as Nairobi News observed. Others include a couple of clubs in Ngong area and Langata.
However, most sexual harassment incidents happen outside the clubs. Perpetrators would include taxi drivers, street urchins, patrol police looking to arrest the drunk and disorderly, and other revellers within the radius of a particular club.
Ms Tasha Nairi, a resident of Doonholm Phase 5, who was on her way back from a rave with her boyfriend experienced harassment from the most unlikely source.
“Because my boyfriend lives off Jogoo Road, he alighted and I continued on my journey in a taxi. At some point the driver stopped the car and tried to get ‘hands on’ with me, but I warned him off severely,” said Nairi.
As they continued, she said the taxi driver threatened her with a gun and was going to rape her. She was saved by her quick calculations as the driver begun slowing down while still issuing threats. That is when she unlocked the door and jumped off the moving car.
“As you can see my hands and feet still have the bruises from that incident. I, however, couldn’t report the case to the police because when I jumped out of the car, my immediate concern was to run for my life. I can’t even remember the model of the car he was driving,” added Nairi.
At an infamous joint known at the city centre for its sex workers, generally known as ‘members,’ the atmosphere is conducive for potential harassment.
The mood in the club is filled with the sort of tension that would give a sexual crime perpetrator of any gender, the urge to go for what they want, however, unsolicited.
Drinks are in plenty as well as drunk patrons and the observable stereotype is to have skimpily dressed ‘members’ at your table. You have to shell out money for drinks though, to keep the women there.
They women are normally dressed in skimpy outfits, leaving little to imagination and they are bold in soliciting clients. They sit in twos with the occasional loner who provocatively drapes herself in a chair at a corner.
This in spite of posters on walls that read: “Miniskirts and open tops are not allowed. Avoid loitering in the corridors.”
Most of the sex workers are intoxicated as they bide time waiting for clients while drinking alcohol.
Requesting anonymity, one ‘member’, barely 24 years old who worked from the club explained that the girls were always susceptible to sexual harassment from patrons because of the joint’s reputation.
“The men know they can come to this place whenever they want a quick shot. They grope at us, pull at our clothes but our defence is weak because of the nature of our work. If we complain, they turn it on us and say we were soliciting business from them,” said the girl.
At other times, she explained that a client would make an agreement with a ‘member’ to leave together, only for her to find more men waiting at their final destination. She has limited escape in such a case and anything can happen to her.
“It would be a gang thing. They would be cruel and do all sorts of things to us and even fail to pay. The girls would only end up fulfilling their side of the bargain, while the client refuses to stick to the agreement.
“Dogs were once set on a colleague to chase her out of a compound in Karen before she could even put on her clothes and pick her belongings,” added the girl.
This writer however determined that there was always a pre-condition that led to victims being sexually harassed at city clubs.
As it is their duty to be sober while at work, bartenders interviewed said most victims were subject to their own harassment.
One who works at a popular new club between Tom Mboya and Moi Avenue said women who pretended to know everything and those who drank too much mostly got sexually harassed by more than one man as compared to other female patrons who stayed within their drinking limits.
Female patrons who had too much fun at the expense of other patrons at a newly popular club in Eastlands also tended to fall prey for bouncers other than fellow drunken patrons.
A waitress at the club explained one such incident. She said that bouncers, who were required to maintain security as well as ensure there were no idlers without drinks on their tables, would get the kicks out of ‘feeling’ women who had too much to drink and were ‘all over’ the place.
“One came upon a female who had gone way beyond her drinking limit. She was loud and rowdy and so had to be contained. Instead of decently escorting her outside, the bouncer groped and fondled her. And because she was drunk and couldn’t follow what was happening, the guy even handled her in such a manner that suggested sexual harassment —pretending to carry her outside to cool down,” said the waitress.
Catch his eye
Men, in rare cases, also get harassed by fellow men and even women. Mr Jeff Kilonzo, a supervisor at Florida 2000, said that men would only be harassed if there was a competition between women desperate to catch his eye.
“They would insist on talking to him, they would be ‘hands on’ with a guy and those who have imbibed on too drink go to extremes with acts such as groping and even insisting that they get ‘friendlier’ much to the chagrin of the man,” said Kilonzo.
He also explained that in cases where men harassed each other, it would be hard to know what caused a scuffle because no one would explain the reason for their fight.
One fact was clear, though — that alcohol is the key to sexual harassment. While one would be principled and keep to himself for some time after arriving in a club, things go awry as alcohol makes many believe they are entitled to have whatever they desire.
The dance floor is also a breeding ground for predators who grope and fondle strangers.
Ms Rosemary Wamugunda, who fell victim once said:
“I was once dancing with my friend (another woman) at a club in the CBD and a man joined us and started caressing me from behind. I was disgusted that even when I argued with him to leave me alone he wouldn’t take me seriously.”
Strip clubs are also among the most dangerous spots to get sexually harassed.