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Dear Nation, quit this ‘women deserve to die’ reporting

“Sexism in language is an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women”. We picked this definition straight from Oxford Dictionary.

We want to add something at the tail end of this definition: That sexism in language is an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women, including women that are dead.

And sexist reporting of death is reporting that uses a language in a way that it turns out as an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women.

Here’s one example.

A woman is found dead in her house. Next to her a man hangs from a rope. We would expect a story about potential murder or suicide or both.

But what do we get? A story blaming the woman for her death.

“Death in Murang’a payment for illicit love, says Dad,” reported the Daily Nation.

The story said: “Problem was, with her new-found lover, John Kamau, Wanjiru did not make any effort to conceal their relationship and the couple would do their thing inside her matrimonial home in Gitaimbuka village in Kandara constituency”.

In a nutshell, we are saying that this poor woman, a widow whose husband died years ago, deserved to die. Are we blaming her because she is a woman? If it were a man, who, after the death of his wife, found love again and “did his thing on his matrimonial home” would that have been news?

The entire story is sexist. It reads more disgusting when the writer attempts to cover it up with the thin black veil of death..

We thought we were ‘seeing our own things’ until the same reporter pulled another deeply disturbing story from his black rabbit hat:

“Police zero in on six ‘lovers’ in the puzzle of missing Murang’a woman.”

The jury is still out on whether or not it is by coincidence that the woman in this story is also a widow.

“A mother of three, Ms Ruguru was widowed in 2015,” we are informed.

Now that she is dead, suddenly the story is not about a murder most foul but that the murdered woman had six lovers.

Would this story have been reported differently if the main character were a man with six girlfriends? Aren’t we implying here that the woman deserved her terrible end?

 Are we not being the hypocrites in the bible that wanted a woman stoned in public because ‘they caught her in the act’?

But maybe this journalist has a taste of macabre stories – spinning disturbing stories, not on verifiable facts but on superstition, curses, and warped traditions.

Stories like: “I live in fear of my dead wife’s curse over Sh3.5 million land tussle.”

How he succeeds in weaving mediocrity and superstition into stories, and how the stories end up on the pages of such a respected national newspaper as the Daily Nation is a subject for scholars of superstition.

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