Muslim women ban from riding on Boda Bodas as agitated. The Muslim Clerics in Lamu have started calling the attention of the Kenya government to ban Muslim women in the country to stop taking Boda Bodas.
Many Islamic groups including the Coast Faith Council of Clerics (CICC) and the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) have supported the banning of Muslim women to use Boda Bodas as a means of transport.
Claiming that the way Boda Bodas works scoff Islamic rules, laws, culture and even the heritage of Lamu. They said the female passengers are allowed to straddle their motorbikes.
Also, they affirm that an increase in the popularity of Boda Boda mostly among married and unmarried women have posed a major threat to the Islamic laws and rules.
In a social gathering at the Lamu fort, the Muslim leaders there expressed their concerns over the number of Muslim women seen straddling motorbikes.
Among those Muslim leaders present include, Mohamed Abdulkadir (CICC Lamu branch chair), Abubakar Shekuwe (Lamu County CIPK chair) and many others.
This is because, women passengers on motorcycles, lamented, expose parts of their bodies that offend Islamic teachings.
Ustadh Abdulkadir also noted that children were dropping out of school to engage in the Boda Boda business, particularly on Lamu Island.
The worst, He said teenage pregnancies were also increasing as Boda Boda operators give money and lifts to schoolgirls in exchange for sex.
“Lamu is a historical town with its own religious and cultural aspects. This town is populated predominantly by residents who profess the Islamic faith. We get irritated seeing our women and girls straddling Boda Bodas and exposing their body parts,” he added.
“This is against Islamic teachings. There is a need for a county by-law introduced urgently to either ban Boda Bodas from operating here or Muslim women riding on these motorbikes.” He affirmed.
Sheikh Shekuwe said, “motorbikes are generally not a woman-friendly means of transport.”
In fact, according to Islamic teachings, it is accepted for a man and a woman who are not husband and wife to be close to each other. Like the Boda Boda and female passengers.
“The higher divorce rates on Lamu Island is mainly because of the Boda Bodas.” Claimed Sheikh Shekuwe.
He also added that “Muslim women being carried on bikes isn’t allowed in Islam as it leaves them exposing their thighs publicly. How can you as a woman allow those sensitive parts to be seen by everyone? Those parts only belong to your husband,”
“You straddle motorbikes and leave them visible just like that. To make things worse, you even hold on to the rider tightly. You don’t even make an effort to at least sit sideways with your legs dangling.” Sheikh Shekuwe expresses his concern.
He also mentioned that “It’s inappropriate and that’s why promiscuity is on the rise. We have been receiving complaints of married women eloping with the Boda Boda riders. They even end up being divorced by their husbands. Something needs to be done to stop this or else, even the heritage status of Lamu will be a thing of the past.”
Imam Noordin Abdullahi of the Jamia Mosque in Hindi, Lamu West, said the Boda Boda sector has created employment for many young people. But discipline has been a challenge for many riders.
Opposed to the proposal to ban Boda Bodas
Amina Kale the Lamu County Assembly – MCA opposed the proposal to ban Boda Bodas in Lamu Old Town. Instead, she proposed by-laws to be introduced to control them.
“Boda Bodas has created employment for our youth. Banning them isn’t proper. Let there be legislation to control them. My fellow women should stop riding on Boda Bodas unless there is an emergency. They should also cover their bodies well and avoid holding on to the drivers,” she said.
Abdallah Bakari the Lamu Island Boda Boda Association chair said not all riders bear ill intentions towards their female customers.
“I agree. Boda Bodas are immoral in most parts of Kenya but our members here are serious in the business. It’s their sole income earner. We can’t ban Boda Bodas in Lamu,” he said.
“The sector has absorbed many youths that used to engage in theft, mugging and burglary. Residents would previously be waylaid and robbed of their valuables in broad daylight but such cases have greatly reduced since the Boda Boda trade was introduced.”
Ms Salim said banning women from using motorbikes was not the right option.
“It depends on how you value yourself first as a woman and secondly, the respect you have towards religion. As for me, I haven’t, and I don’t plan to ride on a Boda Boda since it’s against Islam. I urge our women, especially those at their youthful age to use Boda Bodas only during emergencies,” said Ms Salim.
In short, the town’s streets could only allow donkeys and foot. Whereas motorcycles and tuk-tuks have crowded the town and changed the town’s traditional way of life.