Story by Tom Witherow/The Independent
Every scar on Mary Muthui’s head and body tells a story of the harsh persecution that gay Kenyans face every day.
Mary is an LGBT activist in the east African country, and one of very few lesbians to come out in the media. Her work has made her a constant presence in the press – a positive for the movement, but something for which she, her girlfriend and her 12-year-old son have suffered dearly.
Three years ago she and a friend were walking down one of Nairobi’s busiest roads, when she was approached by a group of men who had noticed her T-shirt; “Proudly Lesbian”, read the slogan. Mary explains how she ran after the group attacked.
“I crossed the road and kept running. But they caught up and shouted that I should come back and find my friend, who they had grabbed. So I went back and they said: ‘Let’s go.’ They raped us for close to three hours.” There were nine men.
Her son was conceived in a similar attack with six men, during which her head was slashed by a machete. She parts her hair to show the 3in scar where the blade struck, before saying that it was during that same attack that she contracted HIV.