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The inspiring story of how grandmas in Kenya are changing rape culture.

These grandmas aren't letting criminals get the best of them.

In a tiny neighborhood in a small Kenyan city, 20 elderly women meet in a hot room every week.

Surrounded by punching bags and like-minded participants, these women are all there to accomplish one mission:

Instead of letting rape and hyper-masculinity run rampant in their neighborhood, elderly women in Kenya are learning the art of kung fu as a tool to fight back.  


Elderly Kenyan women learn the basics of martial arts to fight rapists in their neighborhood. Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images.

The plan is simple. Women ages 60-85 gather in a small room in Korogocho, a disadvantaged neighborhood outside Nairobi. With only a plastic cover to protect them from the sun, the woman take turns practicing self-defense on a punching bag, encouraging each other along the way.    

"You don't need to hit hard to be accurate," Sheila Kariuki, the 29-year-old teacher leader of the group, told The Telegraph. "Accuracy is the key to the technique."  

Kariuki spends the class demonstrating the vulnerable points on a male body, such as the collarbone, nose, and genitalia. The women are taught techniques such as yelling instead of screaming to maintain a sense of control and not worrying about how much force a blow to the rapist’s body has, but rather making sure they get a proper punch to the body.      

Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images.

“Our program does make a difference. We have testimonies of old women now able to defend themselves using verbal or physical techniques," Kariuki told The Telegraph.

Kariuki holds the class on a volunteer basis about once a week. It began in 2007, when young criminals began raping women up to four times their age. Kariuki, trained in self-defense techniques developed by feminists during the 1970s, took it upon herself to teach the seniors that fighting back is an option.        

Roughly 155,000 residents live in Korogocho, which is about 11 kilometers outside Nairobi's city center.

​Photo by Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images​.

As in many other struggling neighborhoods, the women in the area are at higher risk of rape, adding another layer to the ongoing fight against devastating HIV/AIDS statistics in Kenya. HIV/AIDS is the #1 cause of death in the nation. An estimated 1.4 million people are living with HIV, and new infections continue to make the movement against eradicating the spread of the virus from society difficult.

Rape culture only enhances the epidemic in disadvantaged areas such as Korogocho.  

Because so many rapes go unreported, the statistics of rape in Kenya vary widely.    

According to a 2006 report from Kenya’s national commission on human rights, a girl or woman is raped every 30 minutes. Many young orphans are especially vulnerable because of a commonly held belief that sex with a virgin — in a typical rapist's mind, a young child — is a cure for AIDS. This disturbing train of thought also influences these men to target grandmothers, as they assume they aren’t as sexually active as middle-aged women.    

This incorrect and dismal ideology continues to be the thought process for many male criminals in more underdeveloped areas.  

This ideology doesn’t only affect countries like Kenya, though.

We experience its effects in the United States, too, because rape culture isn't a problem that's exclusive to one part of the world.

But the ways we fight back against this culture matter.

In the U.S., we have to put signs up in bars to offer protection for women, rethink how we talk about consent in classrooms, and reprimand a major-party presidential nominee’s views on women to fight sexual assault and rape statistics that plague developed countries, as well. In Kenya, women learn kung fu.

By teaching consent to men and women at an early age, making laws that make it easier for people to feel safe reporting rape and sexual assault and empowering men and women around the globe to protect their bodies, we can help end rape culture.

Women like Kariuki and the women she teaches are empowering themselves in their classes every week.

They want to make sure rape culture isn’t the standard for Kenyan women’s lives, and that's inspiring.

Through discipline and mutual female support, these grandmas are taking back their identity and right to live peacefully, one punch at a time.    

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Democracy

Appalachian mom's speech on Kentucky's proposed abortion ban is a must-hear for everyone

Danielle Kirk is speaking up for those often overlooked in our cultural debates.

Canva, courtesy of Danielle Kirk

Appalachian mom gives passionate speech.

Many people felt a gut punch when the Supreme Court issued its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that protected a woman's right to an abortion. However, for some this was a call to action.

Danielle Kirk, 27, a mom of two and an activist on TikTok, used her voice in an attempt to educate the people that make decisions in her small town. Kirk lives in Kentucky where a trigger law came into effect immediately after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Being a former foster child, she knew she had to say something. Kirk spoke exclusively with Upworthy about why she decided to speak up.

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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