Despite the recent political environment in Kenya, (The general election, the Supreme Court nullification of presidential election and another fresh presidential election and then the swearing in of the President with sporadic tension in between the events) we managed to pull a meritorious 16 days of activism!
I must say this years theme ‘Leave no one behind’ was just it! Leaving no one behind is universal of the core effective implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. It actually ensures that every citizen in every corner of every community is included in the implementation of the 17 Global goals. It has set the pace and traction to all global, regional and national platforms in achievement of the set out indicators.
I observed and partly engaged in the various activities that took place in Kenya. Individuals, communities, civil societies, development partners all stood up to the call of ‘leaving no one behind’. When you hear of Elders in Laikipia lifting a curse on girls and men they had pronounced bad omen upon for defying FGM, when you hear of female circumcisers declaring that they have stopped performing FGM, when you hear children breaking the silence on Gender Based Violence, what does that tell you? It actually affirms everyone’s committment to ending violence against girls and women and that we are drawing nigh to a country free from Gender Based Violence (GBV)
As a member of FEMNET, I got invitations to take part in some of the various activities that took place in the country including the Silent Protest-organized by Equality Now, the (Nganya-Safe) safe Matatu campaign (a collaboration between The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and Equality Now), a wonderful campaign that sought to end sexual harassment in public transport vehicles as well as sensitize users on reporting such incidents.
I also participated in the #Women4women consultative forum in Naivasha on 9th of Dec, a day before the International Human Rights Day. Another amazing collaboration between Kenya Women Judges Association (KWJA), Kenya Women Medical Association (KWMA) and UNFPA, that provides for a platform meant to contribute directly to improving health and well being of women and girls through enhancement of policy and service delivery. This platform will undertake strategic interventions to empower girls and keep its duty bearers focused on delivering results and improvement in the health well being of girls and women in Kenya.
They say save the best for last! Well, am mentioning this particular activity last because of the emotional roller-coaster I went through while partaking it-The National Dialogue on the Protection of Children Against Sexual and Gender Based Violenceto End SGBV among children. The event was specifically dedicated to children school-going age. It was a thought provoking and bewildering session when teenage girls asked deep questions that came deep within their hearts.
Here are some of the questions I picked up.
- Whom do I turn to when violated (my mother, my father-(the perpetrator) my teacher do not believe me)
- Where do I run to, for I do not have any other place to go?
- Why do I have to go through sexual abuse? Have I wronged anyone?
- For how long should I wait to get justice?
- What to I do when my teacher asks for sex from me in order to pass exams?
They discouraged the idea of solving sexual abuse cases under a tree, settling cases as ordinary family issues for they bear the ultimate physical, social, psychological and economic burden. They demanded for full implementation of the law against their abusers.
Nevertheless, The Nairobi Women Rep Hon. Esther Pasaris was also at the event. She signed up her commitment-promising to work with everyone in the fight to end GBV. Her commitment number one being that she will dedicate a huge chunk of her budget to setting up safe houses within the county -since most of the children especially girls do not have a place to go when running away from their abusers.
Similarly, council of elders, religious leaders, government bodies all committed to fully concerting efforts towards elimination of SGBV.
According to Gender Violence and Recovery Centre, (GVRC) the youngest girl to have undergone sexual abuse is 1 month the oldest being 105 years. The hospital averagely receives about 20 cases of rape, defilement and sodomy every day! Shocking statics indeed!
A separate report from the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) indicates that the Government loses 44percent of its total GDP in handling GBV treatment. This is a cost we can no longer ignore.
Lets us not relent. More work needs to be done!