Karaté grannies: older women learn to defend themselves in Kenya

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In Kenya, elderly women are believed to be spared by HIV and have therefore become frequent victims of rape. They decided to take matters into their own hands and took up karaté to defend themselves against future rape attempts. 

AJ+ recently published a video showing venerable women in the middle of karaté training. Its message? Kenyan women are far from vulnerable; since 2019, they’ve been training to fend off rapists.Kenya elderly women rape

Self-defense classes in Nairobi

Jane and 19 other women tell viewers why they decided to start holding self-defense training sessions every day in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.

Being an elderly woman is no walk in the park in Africa. After becoming frequent targets of witch hunts, they are now been singled out by sexua predators. Over the last few years, rapes and sexual assaults have turned into a widespread social problem in Kenya; 40 000 were reported in 2009. Faced with this threat, a minority of elder women have decided to come together to learn how to defend themselves against future attackers. The oldest participant is 85!

“He touched my neck. And then I boxed him, and another one and another one.”

Those training sessions allowed Jane, a 55-year-old Kenyan woman, to successfully fend off a rape attempt: “He touched my neck. And then I boxed him, and another one and another one.

She explains that sexual predators in Kenya prefer elderly women over young women, thinking they are sexually inactive and therefore unlikely to have HIV. Training gave her confidence to fend off potential rapists: Three women like me, five [attackers], they can’t touch me. She hopes elderly women from other regions will emulate their example and take up similar self-defense training.

Read more: Côte d’Ivoire pushes for an improvement in the elderly’s living conditions

Watch AJ+’s video: 

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