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SOCIETY: Sharon Otieno and the court of social media

by kenya-tribune
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By CAROLE MANDI
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Sharon Otieno probably never imagined the following three things: one, that her young life would be cut cruelly short, two, that she would become a household name because of it, making news headlines and trending online for several weeks.

Three, that she would be crucified on the altar of public opinion, especially on the social media she loved posting her pictures as most women her age do. She couldn’t have imagined these things in her wildest horrors.

Even Stephen King couldn’t make this up because truth is always stranger than fiction.

Someone is guilty of this heinous crime, and it is the hope of every right thinking citizen that justice will be served and the perpetrators brought to book. However, this justice will be little consolation to her grieving parents.

It won’t bring back a young woman whose dreams were cut short, or comfort the children who will grow up without a mother.

We have all weighed in our opinions of ‘whodunit’ and many of us are guilty of casting aspersions on this young woman. Certainly, she made some questionable choices in her life. Who hasn’t?

As Jesus said to the religious leaders who brought a woman caught committing adultery before him, “Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.”

Did Jesus see through their hypocrisy in bringing only the woman forward to shame and stone her while letting her male accomplice go free? Where indeed was the hapless fellow? And how did he escape the lynch mob that was baying for the woman’s blood?

Perhaps in their minds, the man was only doing what men do — boys will be boys — and the woman was the guilty party. Perhaps, they might have opined, she lured him away with her seductive wiles and caused him to ‘fall’.

It was all her fault, they may have judged, as they helped the man cover up and get on with his life. No such kindness was reserved for her though. They dragged her to the master, creating a scene and drawing a crowd. The law was clear, they argued. She needed to die a very public and humiliating death.

We are that merciless crowd, hiding behind aliases on social media profiles, spewing forth our venom for the young woman.

Warning others who might be thinking of acquiring “sponsors” that we will be right here, stones in hand, waiting for them to fall.

We will reserve our harshest judgements for them, writing and forwarding long posts about their morality. Or the lack of it as we have determined. What do we hope to achieve by doing so? Is it to make ourselves seem better or holier than thou?

Or are we merely curious, engaging in some drama to break the monotony of our lives? What informs the hate behind our judgements on social media for a person we had never heard of a month ago?

If there is one thing Sharon Otieno has done for us, it is to unwittingly pull back the lid on our hypocrisy and double standards. Our society is guilty of doubly victimising women who have suffered rape, domestic violence and murder.

The question is, usually, “What did she do to bring this upon herself?” Did she dress seductively, not serve him his dinner on time or make too many financial demands?

The fact is our society views women either as Madonnas or whores, and judges them harsher than the men for the same crime.

Sadly, often times the worst judgements come from fellow women. Interestingly, all is not lost as many courageous men have spoken up for Sharon Otieno after this story broke.

A young woman is dead. She could have been your daughter, sister or friend. She did not deserve to die, and certainly, not in the brutal manner she did.

How about we cut her some slack? How about we give her some respect? How about we pray that truth and justice will prevail for her? How about we show her the same mercy we would want to be shown to us?

Meanwhile, a family will be left struggling to cope, long after we have moved on to the next trending story.

Life will never be the same again, and most certainly not for the children who will one day want to know how their mother died.

Hopefully, every stone will be turned, the truth will prevail, and sooner rather than later, justice will be served. RIP, Sharon.



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