All Photographs by Nadja Wohlleben

These Kenyan Grandmothers Are Learning to Fight Back Against Rapists

In some of their country's slums, self-defense is the only option.

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Sep 15 2017, 1:30pm

All Photographs by Nadja Wohlleben

This story appears in the September Issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

In the Korogocho and Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya, one in four women are raped. Older women in particular have been targets in these small villages, as some young men, often under the influence of drugs and alcohol, believe a widespread superstition: that having sex with a grandmother cures HIV and washes off all sins. Recently, with few other options, elderly women have begun to fight off these rapists using self-defense techniques. Organized by No Means No Worldwide, an international NGO, in collaboration with Ujamaa Africa, a local NGO, groups known as the Shosho Jikinge ("grandmother defend yourself") have been formed. There, the members learn how to identify potential attackers, use their voice, trick their way out of dangerous situations, and, of course, fight back. Here, a 71-year-old participant practices a palm punch, as others look on.


Nairobi, KENYA, February 21, 2017: (FL) Elizabeth Kamau, 60, Ann Ajuma Okiri, 56, and Hannah Wanja, 72, practice self-defense techniques during a 'Shosho Jikinge' class in the Korogocho township. All three have successfully escaped or fought off potential sexual attackers since joining the group, as have most of the other participants. The classes effectively help prevent sexual violence: the number of reported cases of rape on elderly women in Nairobi's slums has reduced significantly.

For more of Nadja Wohlleben's work, click here.

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