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Photograph of rural woman in Nairobi, carrying a sack on her head

She was standing on the corner of the busy Moi avenue in Downtown Nairobi, with that determined look in her eyes. You’ve got to be determined if you want to survive in this place, particularly if you are a woman who does not belong to the wealthy few.

Poverty is a bitch

Absence of wealth does not only mean having less money, less food, crappy or no access to health care, education and basic services. It also means having much less ability to protect yourself, your family and your belongings from harm in a violent place. The fairytale-like tourist experiences we may have or have had surrounded by breath-taking wildlife and nature has little to do with the lives of ordinary Kenyans. Particularly not with the lives of ordinary women. Life is harsh and oftentimes brutal – a fact that shows when you look into this woman’s face.

Little to smile about

With every bloody murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery I hear about, I understand more why so very few women (and men, for that matter) around the city are smiling. There is little to smile about. The mutual mistrust is tangible and almost omnipresent. To illustrate my point, the 12 year-old daughter of a lady I know left the family dwelling for the outhouse at 2 pm one day last year, and never returned. She was ‘stolen’. Quite a ‘common thing’ to happen people told me, especially when the victim is ‘healthy-looking’.

Human and organ trafficking are lucrative businesses, particularly in a country where police work has much room for improvement. However, despite the abundance of such horror stories, I cannot get used to the level of violence in this city and the absence of measures to deal with it.

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  1. September 16, 2013

    Good grief. I like that you have given tourism something else to think about here…

  2. September 15, 2013

    Reblogged this on Karen Ellis's Blog and commented:
    Stunning photograph and illuminating article on what exactly poverty does to people, and especially women and children anywhere in the world, including right here in the USA.
    In my job, we have been advised by the corporation HDQ that we are to always be on the lookout for human trafficking.
    I never know exactly what would happen if I were to advise the CPTN about a possible human trafficker and the person, be it a child-girl or boy, or grown human who is afraid to speak up.
    If only our men and women of the world would come together and banish this despicable bad human behavior.

  3. September 15, 2013

    A very powerful photo. Your statement is unfortunately true. The two women with their hair braided must be part of the wealthy.

  4. September 14, 2013

    wunderbar!

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