Before the pandemic hit, a typical day for me would start at 5.30 a.m. I’d wake up pray my fajr salah, shower and prep for the day. I’d leave the house at 7.00 a.m as I was expected to clock in by 9.00 p.m. Just like 31% of Kenyans who use public transport in Nairobi, I’d hope on a matatu and make my way to work. A whistle here, a catcall there as I make my way to the stage is the norm. Should it be? NO, but what I’m I to do? As I get into the matatu, the conductor spanks my behind but I control my cool. Who wants a back and forth with a mad man? Not me. When handing out my fare, an obscene occurrence will take place between the conductor's fingers and mine. That is his move. A subtle and disgusting sexual move. Again, I choose to keep my cool and remain silent.
At work, l hover to my desk ready for the day. I walk in and out of meetings and at lunchtime whilst looking at myself in the mirror, I noticed that my hijab had a loophole revealing some skin. No wonder Balozi from IT was staring at me. I get angry and disgusted with myself. “It is a basic and simple thing Mukanda, tie your hijab properly to avoid susceptibility to any kind of violation” Kendra my subconscious screams. “Today you look good, you’ve made some effort”, says James from the finance department as he swiftly spanks me with an envelope he was carrying. At this point, I’m over it and I’m very much ready to go home.
I decide to hop on a nduthi (motorcycle) it is much faster and in no time I’ll be in town to catch Matatu no15 which will take me back home. Madam hii mwili yako ni nzuri sana, ni size mimi hupenda.( Madam you have a lovely body, it’s my preferred size) the nduthi guy mentions as I hold onto his shoulder for support whilst descending from his motorcycle. I shake my head pay him and stroll to the bus stage.
There’s a queue! I readily remove my earphones from my bag, The Jesus and Jollof podcast will keep me company for the next 30 or so minutes as I waited for the matatu. The queue moves rather slowly which is annoying, to say the least. What annoys me more is the man behind me. He keeps bumping into me for some odd reason! I finally gather the courage to face him and when I turn, I’m met by his dick hanging outside! The nerve! This whole time, he wasn’t pushing on me instead he was masturbating. Could the day get any worse?
I finally get home and the guard opens the door whilst maintaining an extended whistle. “Siste leo umeweza ayayayai” (You look good today sister). I shake my head and swiftly make my way to my apartment. My neighbour John is outside sipping his beer he calls out to me, winks and invites me to his place. I politely refuse as I walk into my house. The whole day consisted of my being sexually harassed in one way or the other. This would continue taking place every day for 5 days a week. The best I could do was shake my head and walk away.
As a remote worker, my routine has changed. All I have to do is wake up, meditate, work out shower and be at my desk by 9.00 a.m sharp. The only whistle coming from my kettle announcing the time for breakfast.
I’m currently upskilling not only because I’m secure in my job I mean we can never get too comfortable but also for the reason that working remotely saves me a great deal when it comes to sexual harassment. I’m safe from any weirdo and I don’t have to keep tabs on myself to ensure my safety. I have the liberty of dressing as I please, for my dressing won’t be blamed for arousing any man.
Remote working gives me the power to be whatever I want. It simply puts me first and for this, I don’t intend on going back to an in house office anytime soon.