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Day 16

Today I got my first dose of mob violence. Luckily I didn’t see it but I heard it. Ironically, we were having and gender-based violence training outside at work. The goal of the training was to educate women on what constitutes gender-based violence, what their rights are and what they can do to help themselves or those they know when they are a victim. Halfway through the training we heard gunshots. It made everyone a bit un-easy but people here are used to hearing gunshots. Men with giant guns guard all of the banks and major businesses. This area of the country was also the hardest hit with post-election violence where looting and fighting was a daily occurrence for a few months.

At the gas station along the main highway a few men attempted to carjack a woman. When she tried escaping they shot her. This gas station is the main matatu transport station as well as the area that many of the boda boda drivers hang out, right next to the busy marketplace. Meaning there were tons of people there that descended on the thieves as soon as they did this, stoning them to death and then setting them on fire with tires. The gunshots we heard were the police trying to break up the crowd. What surprised me or, I guess actually didn’t, was how it didn’t really phase anyone, that mob justice is a normal occurrence. And moreover, what is interesting is the dichotomy there is when it comes to theft. How petty theft is such a regular occurrence but if caught is handled extremely violently.

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