Harassment: Why are people supporting the Orange Service attendant who violated Laura’s privacy?


This past weekend on Kenyan twitter there was a story passing around posted by @Laura_wamby. Basically she had gone to Orange customer care earlier and later in the evening received an unexpected text. She shared the screen shot of a WhatsApp conversation had with an Orange service attendant where he texted her, attempting to hit on her. She told him it was a breach of her privacy, sharing she was going to report and he tried to defend himself but it was too little too late. She thus afterward proceeded to post the conversation on social media.

The worst part of the whole situation was the responses that flooded twitter after the post. Hundreds of Kenyans were defending the man and shaming Laura. Making her out to look like an overdramatic heartless b**ch.  This amazes me, how far we have to go to be free from mental equality of the genders. Everything about this situation was wrong but people still found a way to defend it. The same people who mind you were a few weeks ago vigorously declaring how  Ben WA Mwangi deserved to have brutal and just punishment for his Facebook status on little girls. So here is my question, does the right to live as a woman without fear only apply in certain situations like for little girls? Does it get to a point where we can be like, “Oh she’s a grown ass woman she can take care of herself now so let us act like we won’t see it and then it won’t exist.”

Or to the Kenyans-mostly men- who said his approach was what any shy guy would have done and she took it too far, do you not see the sense of entitlement you are confirming is present in the male gender? Let me explain to you what is wrong with this situation.

It is not ok to use company confidential data to chat up women.

Firstly and most importantly the biggest problem is how he got the number. It was a breach of privacy and security. When you are giving customer service you are trusting them to use that information solely for matters pertaining to the service you require. By him taking her number personally he breached a code of ethics.

Secondly under the how he got her number. He essentially took away her right as an individual to say no. this is the same disgusting behavior women face on the streets of Nairobi when conductors and other men touch inappropriate areas or get offended when you refuse to respond to their catcalling. Patriarchal privilege is men not understanding that women don’t owe them anything! So to take without having a right to take is not only wrong but dehumanizing. By deciding he had a right to take her number the Orange customer service guy was basically saying he had power over her because he had taken away her right to choose to give it to him.

Harassment on whatsapp. Image from http://blogbaladi.com/how-to-report-harassing-phone-calls-or-text-messages-in-lebanon/
Harassment on whatsapp. Image from http://blogbaladi.com/how-to-report-harassing-phone-calls-or-text-messages-in-lebanon/

Lastly Laura’s reaction was just. After talking to a couple of my friends about the situation I realized that it was not just a one-time occurrence. A friend of mine shared how she had a similar experience with KCB bank where she had gone for help, given her details, and later on in the day received a message from the customer service guy saying, “Hey babe”. Another friend shared how her sister when getting a new phone went home later and received a text as well from the Electronic shop attendant. These are situations women face alone but speaking up changes things. We can’t keep being silent, even about the small things. If Laura hadn’t said anything the publically the man would have known he can get away with pulling such stunts and done it again.

After all that whether Orange decided to fire him or not was on them not Laura. She did her part and reported the situation. So you can’t blame her for whatever consequences he received. Thus Kenyans if we are ever going to stop promoting harassment against women we can’t turn a blind eye to any such situation. And for heaven’s sake, stop victim shaming! It is ignorant and immature.

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Shingai is an upcoming writer with a passion for words and expression through writing. She lived in Zimbabwe as a child and has traveled to over ten countries. She craves adventure and hopes to be an inspirational writer. She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature with a minor in Psychology at Daystar University.