When the news first broke across Africa that Grand mothers were increasing becoming targets for rape, sexual assault, murder and robbery for various unprintable reasons, it sent a wave of panic and serious concern across the continent.
Many informal settlements like Korogocho in Niarobi, Kenya - home to about 200, 000 people is one of the many settlements that have experienced these attacks on elderly women.
Korogocho is well known to be one of the most dangerous areas in Nairobi and home to a large number of gangs, addition and crime. Naturally, it is not a good settlement for the elderly - especially the grannies.
The elderly women in Korogocho were victims of sexual assault, rape, and murder. They were usually attacked by night and cruelly raped by younger men who will also steal their valuables.
This became so rampant in the area to the extend that the grannies came together to device a means of fighting back against these miscreants who were sexually assaulting them.
To this vein, they decided to learn some self defense fighting skills, so they formed a group called the “Kickboxing Grannies of Korogocho,” or the “Karate Grannies” where they learnt how to defend themselves by fighting, shouting for help to attract neighbours to their rescue and how to assess dangerous situations.
The grannies have also gone a step further to teach other young ladies in the community how to help them during these attacks, empowering not just themselves but the younger women in their neighbourhood also.
Surprisingly, the leader of the karate training is a 74-year-old grand mother named Beatrice Nyariara.
“It is very unsafe because before we started this group of old women like me, a lot of old women used to be raped by young men. They take drugs, alcohol and when it enters their head, they can’t differentiate between their elders and young girls.
“We found someone to train us. We started doing karate. As we continued, young men realized we won’t be hurt and started backing,” she told ABC News.
According to her, majority of the members in the group have either been victims of sexual assault, or they know someone who has.
She grinned from cheek to cheek as she narrated an incident where she used her karate skills to defend herself against a young man who broke into her home to rape her one night.
“When he entered I hit him. He fell on his back. I stepped on his balls. And he said, ‘Granny — don’t kill me’,” She said.
Jane Waithegeni, another member of the group, was gang-raped over 10 years ago after she was abducted from a public bus.
“They removed my shirt and blindfolded me. I was taken to a second car, then to a third car. I was held for three days and raped. They gave me HIV,” Waithegeni, who has since become a trainer for these elderly women and a counselor for rape victims said.
Local reports claim that the self-defense training has helped to reduce the number of rapes in Korogocho by 15 per cent in 2017 alone.
You will recall that filmmaker, Brent Foster, created a short film about the women of Korogocho titled “Enough: The Empowered Women of Korogocho.”