Wendy Kemunto: Dealing with my rape through music
Kenyan musician Wendy Kemunto also known as Wendy K was gang raped on her birthday by two men. She says one of the biggest issues in fighting sexual violence on the continent is the lack of understanding of consent. She shared her story.
“I do admit I was intoxicated but I was still aware of my surroundings. As soon as I got to the house, the next thing I knew after drinking something, I could not remember what happened. I was slipping in and out of consciousness.
I believe they took advantage of my situation. I felt helpless, I felt confused, I felt alone. I felt I did not know what to do, and that is why I decided not to report or go through with the matter.”
But a month later, Wendy K says she felt overwhelmed with an emotional and physical burden of the ordeal she had experienced and that’s why she took to social media to tell her story.
“I got a lot of attention; a lot of good and bad responses. And eventually I got a response from the Law Society of Kenya, FIDA (Federation of Women Lawyers) which helped me in the legal process. We went to court and finally the court proceedings ended in 2019, where the two assailants were found guilty.”
The culprits were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
“I felt I had gotten closure from their sentence. As a musician it really affected my career. I lost a lot of opportunities, a lot of contracts because of the weight of the case.”
Wendy Kemunto now believes she is an advocate for women who have been sexually assaulted, for women who feel they can not speak up about their experience.
“Just like a song I created called ‘Huru’ which means free, I believe in a way I am now an advocate for women who feel they don’t have a voice, women who feel helpless, women who will feel nobody will believe them because not many believed my story but the judge took a chance with the evidence that was presented and she saw that I was telling the truth.”
She wants justice systems in Kenya and on the rest of the continent to review how sexual assault cases are being dealt with.
“We should change how we approach victims and how we handle them. Even after we have reported a case, there should be a post-counselling where the victim can be helped to live a better life after such an incident.”
“People need to understand the meaning of consent. This goes from men to women to children. I believe if we start teaching our children in our communities, in our families, there will be a huge difference in society in how we treat women, in how we treat our men because there are men who also go through the same problems.”
The message is clear; “when a woman says no, she means no. When a woman says yes, she means yes.”