Nairobi Women Representative Hon. Esther Passaris urged girls from Kibera to courageously SPEAK OUT by reporting cases of sexual and gender based violence regardless of the status of the perpetrator.
“Do not fear to report sexual violence cases to your teachers, parents and the police.” She said. ” It doesn’t matter who the person is, be it your teacher, parent, neighbor, please report. Do not fear intimidation,” urged Esther.
Hon. Passaris spoke during the International Day of The Girl Child celebrations that took place on 19th Oct, 2018, at Lutheran church, Kibera.
The celebrations convened by UNFPA Kenya and Polycom Development Program brought together over five thousand girls and boys from primary and secondary schools around Kibera. Also present at the event was H.E Nicolas Nihon, Ambassador, Embassy of Belgium, Lucien Kouakou, Regional Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation, (IPPFAR), Mrs. Rahab Muiu Chairperson Maendeleo ya Wanawake, Principal Secretary Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs and women 4 women platform members.
During her speech, Hon. Esther Passaris stressed on the urgency to address and end the rampant cases of physical, emotional, sexual and gender based violence that happen in Kibera. Esther said, she was aware that most families solve gender based violence cases amicably at home, thereby interfering with the rightful avenue for seeking justice for the victims. She requested the police and the judiciary to diligently exercise their mandate by arresting and prosecuting offenders of SGBV.
She also said that the county government of Nairobi is, at the moment, working on setting up safe houses around Nairobi to accommodate survivors of gender based violence who flee their homes and those that require safety from their abusers who may otherwise harm them.
A speech read on behalf of the Permanent Secretary (PS), Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs mentioned the projects that the government is currently focusing on to better the life of every child across the country. The projects included; free primary and secondary education, Universal Health Coverage and affordable housing under the current Big 4 Agenda that is under implantation by the national government. The Principal Secretary recognized the importance of children in the society and their contribution to development.
“Children are a sign of hope and continuity of generations, they are fundamental to the growth of any country, their rights must therefore be jealously preserved, ” Read the opening remarks of the speech.
The PS, underscored the economic burden of Gender Based Violence and its ramifications to the economy of the country.
“The economic burden of GBV is estimated to be at Sh46 Billion, the cost of post-rape care services in public health sector alone is estimated st 236M. These are monies that can be channeled into other development projects, if we end SGBV in Kenya“ Read the speech
Mrs. Rahab Muiu, Chairperson Maendeleo Ya Wanawake, advised the girls to abstain from sexual activities, a behavior that may deviate them from achieving their dreams. “Avoid having sex and relationships now, focus on your education.” She said. Rahab pledged to mentor the girls along the way and to continuously protect their rights, through the mandate of her organization.
Mrs. Phanice Juma, Director Healthcare Assistance Kenya, (HAK) used the opportunity to avail a 24 hour Violence Rapid Response and GBV Toll Free Hotline (1195) which girls can call and report cases of abuse. “If you are in any kind of abuse related trouble, call 1195, we will help you,’ She affirmed.
During the celebrations, the girls played songs, dances, skits and read out poems that called for protection of their rights and freedoms. Key was a number of poems read out from a collection of poems written and published by Kibera girls in a book dubbed “The power of Love”; an in depth understanding of what love means to them.
Dr. Ademola Olajide, Representative, UNFPA Kenya urged the girls to work hard and challenge the status quo.
” We want the first female president of Kenya to come from Kibera,” He said.
He also said that UNFPA Kenya would provide necessary support to ensure that the the girls are comfortable to stay in school and pursue their dreams, “We are here for you, we will support your dreams” Said Dr. Ademola.
UNFPA Kenya has been (for about one year now) working closely with Polycom Development Program under its talking boxes project. Talking boxes are small metallic boxes where girls in primary schools drop secretive notes onto which they express issues that they may be going through, including sexual, gender based violence. The notes are later retrieved and read by a school counselor. Follow up is then done to help curb/solve the case.
Early this year, UNFPA Kenya supported production of 55 metallic boxes, a move that saw the project scale up to 50 schools up from 15 schools within Kibera. The project continues to positively impact on the health and education of thousands of girls around Kibera.
In her speech, Jane Anyago Director Polycom Development Program thanked UNFPA Kenya for the incredible partnership and called upon anyone passionate about the initiative to reach out and work with her, for she wishes to expand the project around schools in Kenya.
Read more about the talking boxes project here.