FGM, a culture that had me ‘Ousted’

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a deep rooted culture among some of the Kenyan communities. Many girls and women have been victims of this barbaric culture that spares no one. Some run away and abandon their families and relatives as they escape the wrath of the unforgiving blade.
During my activism/journalism, I met  Leonida, a 25 year old lady who somewhat flee from her village in Kisii due to pressure to undergo the ‘cut’. Here, prevalence stands at 84%. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 girls have undergone FGM, in Kisii.
Leonida represents many other girls in Kenya who are living in horror and constant  fear of this culture.
Leonida Makori was born in Kisii county on 22 August 1992.  She was raised by both her parents alongside her two other siblings. Life as a little girl was great. She loved playing hide and seek games with her sisters and friends. She would take cover in the beautiful lush thickets around their homestead giving them a difficult time tracing her. She always won the little games. She loved the tranquility that existed around her village.  However, few years later, the sweet village turned sour on her!
FGM is a culture that has been embraced by her community for many years. Her two elder sisters were never spared. They were circumcised in 1999 at the age of 9 and 11 respectively. She was 7 then. She was rather certain that in two years or so, it would be her turn. She cringed at the fleet of thoughts….
After the cut and big ceremony, her sisters bled and complained of pain. Worse still, they were never taken to a hospital. Instead, a traditional herbalist descended on them with various concoctions promising them they would get better. They suffered for almost two months. They cried oftenly, walked legs apart, and never enjoyed their night hours. Leonida wondered why her community would have someone go through so much pain in the name of culture.
Her father was psychologically affected by her siblings’ experience.  He vowed never to allow her to undergo the cultural requirement. They therefore moved to Nairobi, a safer haven, the year 2000. She started a new life. She was enrolled into a new school and in no time found new friends. She adapted to the new life.
Soon, she aged to the circumcision age bracket. Year after year, she was never circumcised despite the pressure her father was getting from her family and community. He avoided discussing about the subject. He even cut links with the members of the family that constantly called him begging him not to defy a long existing culture.
She never went back to Kisii, until when she completed high school. She was 19 years then.  When she got back to the village, she was happy to reunite with her friends, instead they harassed, humiliated and mocked her for being uncircumcised. Women sneered at her and even avoided shaking her hands, for they believed that she was a dirty woman. The humiliation was too much. She decided to stay indoors for the entire one month that they stayed in the village. They went back to Nairobi where she finally experienced peace and normalcy.
In 2013 her parents retired and relocated to Kisii. Luckily, she had just been enrolled at Egerton University, main Campus in Nakuru where she pursued Gender and Women Development studies . She settled on the major because of what she was experiencing in her life.  She wanted to be a gender activist in future.  She  went to several school trips  with her classmates across Kenya mentoring young boys and girls concerning FGM and Early marriages, deep rooted cultures that largely affect women and girls in Kisii.
In May 2014 she traveled for long holidays in Kisii where her parents were residing. While walking to the house from main stage, two women approached her referring to her as a city girl who had defied her culture. She was petrified. She kept walking without saying a word back. To her surprise,  one of them stripped her naked and threatened to circumcise her. Other women were now shouting and giggling saying that she must be circumcised and that she was bringing shame and a curse to them and community at large.  Luckily, she managed to escape. Her cousin who does his motorcycle riding business took her home and explained the situation to her parents.  She was shaking and in complete shock.  She just did not comprehend what had happened to her!
Her  parents took her to the police station to record a statement that night but instead they were insulted by the policemen for defying their culture.
Her father tried to talk to the village elders ,his brothers and even the women group organizations to leave her alone and that times had changed. They instead chased him a way and even removed him from the groups and elders meetings. They were the laughing stock of the village.
On several occasions young boys would stop her along the road and threaten to strip her and circumcise her with their bare hands.  She was traumatized by the cold treatment.  Her trips to the police station yielded nothing. Instead at one time they locked her up and one of them slapped her and kicked her ruthlessly for disturbing the whole village peace. She spent a whole night at the cold police cells, with no crime nor charges. Her father had to pay $200 {ksh. 20,000} for them to let her go. They threatened to circumcise her if she ever went back there again.She flee the village for sometime…..
In 2015 she was engaged. Her  fiance wanted to go home to her village to pay bride price. He was told that she was not circumcised by the village women and urged him to ensure that she undergoes the cut during childbirth. The issue put so much pressure on their relationship. They broke off the engagement.
Her relatives hated her for she had ashamed the family.  Her cousin friends cut ties with her. She only had support and love from her immediate family.
To date she still dreads going back home to her village. Although she still lives in fear, Leonida hopes that one day they agree to her decision. However she is certain that she may not get married for she may be cut during childbirth.
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Surviving gang rape..

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Speaking to Rhoda* at the Bridge Centre, Mukuru Kwa Njenga

Mid December 2017, I set out to meet amazing girls at the Bridging Centre in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Nairobi. A drive through the overpopulated, shanty housed slum, with seemingly narrow pathways dotted with overly delighted kids engulfing the whole neighborhood in screams and yells of joy as they darted across the road, playing polythene paper stuffed soccer ball, I finally arrived at the bridging Centre which is situated adjacent to a hospital deep within the slum region.

I met and interacted with a couple of girls. Rhoda caught my attention. She is a courageous girl. She is confident, smart and assertive. She posses unique skills and adorns a ‘tom boy look’. She has been through a lot in life… Here is her story

“My name is Rhoda* I am 18 years old. I am an artiste. I love to rap, I do spoken word and write scripts. . My stage name is Rapper G! I live in Mukuru Kwa Njenga. I have dropped out of school not once,twice, after Form 1 and now Form 2 due to lack of school fees and few dicliplinary cases here and there.

Rapping/Spoken word is the only way I get to somewhat express and release the pain and heartache that has mauled me throughout my life.

My mother is a vegetable seller. My father lost his job three years ago and has been unable to get a descent job ever since. Life at home became tough. My mother was struggling to feed, shelter and school me and my three younger siblings. At 17, I departed home in search of a better future.

Unknowingly, I entered into gang life to protect myself from lots of ghetto trouble. My best male friend inside the gang further protected me from other gang members. He later on persuaded me to leave gang life for he feared for my life. He said it wasn’t just my thing and that I was wasting my life. I heeded to his advice. To be safe, I had to shift places.

I decided to look for a job and turn over a new leaf. I easily got a job as a waitress at a local bar close to where I lived. Six days into my new job, my boss and his three friends drugged me and raped me the whole night, in turns..

When the drugs cleared from my system. I woke up feeling dizzy and with a throbbing headache. I was half naked, blood stained and my body pained as though I had been beaten thoroughly. I tried to get up and walk but fell down like a drunkard. I lay still, hoping that it was just one of those crazy dreams and it would soon be over.

In my hullucinations, I heard footsteps moving to my direction. I slowly opened my eyes and saw my boss. He was smiling. He ordered me to get up. He dragged me through the back door to his car and asked for the direction to my home. He drove me home and ordered me to give him my dirty, stained clothes and also asked me to take a shower. I knew I had been raped. I peed in a basin inside my bathroom. My vagina pained! I coined throughout my peeing!

I showered for about an hour while crying my heart out. I kept staring at the blood stained water as it made its way through the sewer hole. I walked out of the shower, the bastard was still standing in the middle of my tiny living room. He told me what he and his friends had done to me.. I swear if I had a gun I would have shot his brains out! He asked me to sleep and never tell anyone whatever had happened and if I did he would kill me! I fell on my sofa and pretended to sleep. When he left. I took the bloody urine. Poured in bottle and took it to a nearby hospital. I was immediately admitted. They did tests on me and gave me medication. After one day, I was discharged from the hospital and handed back to my parents who had been informed about my ordeal.

I hated being a woman. I felt dirty and unworthy! I felt guilty! That was my second worst sexual experience since I had just lost my virginity a month prior to the rape incident. Loosing my virginity was a painful experience. I hadn’t gotten over the pain yet!

To date I have never pursued justice because three months ago, my parents and I reported the incident at a local police station and the police officers laughed at us and told us without concrete evidence we were wasting our time.

Nonetheless , I have been receiving counseling at local councelling Centre.

Trust me, I can never fully heal..

With the support of DREAMs Innovation Challenge,I have decided to go back to school. They too are offering psychosocial support and counseling at the Bridge Centre near my home. I feel safe with them. I also use the computers at the Centre to write and edit my scripts. I have written so many pieces on Gender based violence especially on rape and defilement ..
In January, I shall be going back to school to perfect my spoken English and perfect my English writing skills. I love art and art is my life and my future. 

I sincerely thank DREAMs IC for believing in me..

Continue reading “Surviving gang rape..”

A second chance, is all I ever wanted..

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Lilian* together with her mother and her daughter.

Hope, resilience, determination and focus are written all over Lilian’s face. ‘Am conscious of my mistakes, but all I need is a second chance’ discloses Lilian. Amid the hardships in Lilian’s life, she still believes that one day, the sun will go down..

 

“My name is Lilian* Am 16 years old. I am a single mother to a 5 month old baby girl. I live in Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums, Nairobi.

When I was about 8 years old, my mother moved me upcountry-Western Kenya-to live with my grand-parents for she could not afford to feed and take care of her 5 children. She ‘distributed’ us to relatives and remained with only two of my siblings.

Life upcountry was not as tough as life in the city. At least we had food and most of the other basic needs. I was enrolled to a nearby primary school. I loved school and stayed focused. I made new friends and was a darling to many.

Life changed when my grandmother passed on. My 86 year old grandfather was not as hardworking and caring as my grandmother…Nevertheless, I continued with my education. I sat for my KCPE exams and garnered 300Marks emerging one of the top students in the school. I was very happy.

My dreams of joining a secondary school were trashed away simply because my poor mother and alcoholic father could not afford to pay for the required school fee for Form1. I got called to some of the best schools in Western but sadly I could not go.

Poverty and misery was glaring into our eyes. I lived with so many cousins. We used to scramble for food and steal each other’s clothes. Some of my cousins had to leave since life was becoming unbearable.

At 13, I started my menses. There  was no one to buy for me sanitary towels. For two years I used old clothes and rags as pads. During heavy flow, blood would leak and stain my clothes. I would become a laughing stock to my peers. I chose to avoid school whenever I had my periods.

Being idle in the village, and having lost hope for education, I decided to get a boy who would marry me, at 15. I later on got a boyfriend-a Boda Boda rider. He was great. He bought me pads and gave me money. We used to see each other quite often. He said he loved me. I loved him too. We dated for about six months without any intimacy. Then one day I agreed to have sex with him for the first time.. Little did I know that life would take another turn!

How could I have sex for the first time and get pregnant? I wondered…My boyfriend denied responsibility for the pregnancy. I got very distressed,embarrassed and scared at the same time. I did not tell anyone, but with time my protruding belly spoke for itself. When my mother heard of the news, she was very upset and wanted me to get rid of my pregnancy!

I refused and stood firm to my decision. She picked me up from the village and brought me back to Nairobi. I knew she was going to force me to abort. To my surprise, she did not! She changed her mind. Ever since she has been quite supportive.

Then on one bright day, while basking outside the house and enjoying the the sun rays that softly and sweetly sipped through my skin; benefiting from the natural Vitamn D, as my baby took a nap, I was approached by an organization that works to help girls who had dropped out to school due to various factors, to re-enroll back to school. They said they were called DREAMs IC . I did not believe them, I thought they were traffickers. I shared the news with my mother when she returned home from her house to house cloth washing business. She encouraged me to find out where they were. Later that week, we went to visit them to verify their legality. I was shocked to meet other girls at the Centre whose situations weren’t  different from mine.

I did not sleep that night! I was very excited! And thanked God for yet another chance at life! I immediately joined the other girls together with my baby-whom I drop at a day care at the same Centre. Life has never been the same. I was given my basic utilities plus my baby’s. We were so happy!

I have completed the six months learning program under the DREAMs Innovation Challenge. I too have secured a slot at a nearby day secondary school.This coming January, I will be going back to school. I have been given a back to school starter pack containing all the basic essentials and am really exited to get into a secondary school. Am also grateful that my mother has offered to help raise my baby.

I always dreamt of becoming a Neurosurgeon. I believe this is the perfect opportunity to make my dreams come true! I thank DREAMs IC for their support. Because of them, I will realize my dreams..

NB: Name has been changed to conceal identity of the girl..

About DREAMs IC

DREAMS Innovation Challenge is a project that was started with the understanding that in Kenya adolescent girls and women bear the the brunt of the HIV endemic, with females in the 15-24 age cohort accounting for21% of new infections (Kenya HIV Estimate Report 2014)

Low education attainment from dropping out of school is one of the factors that predispose girls and young women to the risk of getting HIV. This project targets adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24years who have dropped out of school and are from resource poor households who are at risk of early marriage, expectant or have children, community members of Siaya, (Sihay, Nyalenya) and Nairobi (Kangemi and Mukuru) as well as duty bearers, service providers who are responsible for supporting the participation of AGWYs in education and transition to secondary school.

The project dubbed ‘Keeping girls in School’ seeks to address the livelihood that girls and young women will drop out of school as a result of lack of support to effectively deal with gender related issues, specifically puberty, sexual reproductive health and HIV thus increasing their vulnerability to HIV.

Girl Child Network (GCN) is working in partnership with LVCT Health, Grow and Know, and Afrucan Voices Foundation under the coordination of Trocaire on the DREAMs IC Project in rural Siaya and the urban informal settlements of Nairobi to address the underlying access, enrollment and retention issues among girls in secondary school.

 

My mistakes will not define me..

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Alice* Speaking to me at the Bridge Centre, Mukuru Kwa Njenga

Alice* is totally set out to ashame those who ridicule her and those who do not believe in her. She says that her mistakes will not in any way define her. She has been through tough moments; moments that almost prompted her to take away her life. She is calm and quite friendly, but you’ll be mistaken to assume that she is soft..

Here is her story..

“My name is Alice* (Pseudo name). Iam 17 yeas old, a single mother to an eight month old baby boy. I got pregnant while in form 2.

My boyfriend disowned me plus my baby. He does not care about us.

I  am second last born of five children. I live in Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums. Life here is tough. My mother has no job. My father is a casual laborer. He makes very little money. He is therefore unable to fend for all of our needs -from food to education to shelter. 

I used to engage in sex with my boyfriend for money. He would buy me food, clothes and pads. When I got pregnant, my boyfriend took off. My mother was quite mad at me. Her constant bickering pushed me to the wall. Were it not for my merciful father, I would be dead right now! One day I had resolved to take my life away..

 I remember very well that night. I stood quietly at the banks of River Kimondo. Ready to take a dive. Something stopped me. I slouched down as though I was carrying a heavy load and started crying. I looked up to God in total adoration and asked him why he brought me to this cruel world. I wondered; Why should I bring a child to this tough and unfair world. If am unable to survive, what of my unborn baby. We would be better of dead together. The stupendous array of stars that dominated the sky gave me inner peace. I lay down, to calm down, to relax my swollen eyes… I didn’t care the danger that faced me… In any case I was useless. Why fret over death?

I was awakened  by garbage collectors, the following day. Who thought I was dead.. I woke up, and cursed why I was still alive. The already bright sun on the east  stung into my eyes. I staggered back home…feeling empty.

My attempts to abort my baby hit a dead end. The men I asked help from wanted sex in return. That meant I would have had to sleep with about 15men to raise money required for the abortion..KES 5,000!

Nine months later a baby was born. Life became even tougher. There was no money for hospital bill (KES5000, I was helped to birth by a traditional birth attendant). My dad really struggled to clear the bill. Still there was no food to feed the baby and no clothes for the baby. I felt really bad, I cried most nights. My baby cried and I cried along with him. It was a pathetic scene.

One day while sited hopelessly in the house. I was approached by a lady who introduced herself as a community facilitator working for DREAMs IC. She explained to me what they do . I was very curious to know more si I immediately followed her to their Centre located within my neighborhood. I left the Centre feeling quite hopeful. I shared the news with my father. He was happy about my decision and offered to give full support. 

I thank the DREAMs Innovation Challenge  Project. They accepted me plus my child. They have shown me unconditional love. They have provided for my baby’s essential needs, especially diapers. And most importantly, they have given me a second chance to life. I am through with the six month learning program. Come January, I will be enrolling back to school. My dad is willing to pay half of the tuition money, while DREAMs project will pay the rest. In addition DREAMs has given me a back to school starter pack containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, shoes, pads, panties, soap, a towel, books, pens, shoe polish and a brush. 

When I joined the Centre, my self esteem was really down, but now with the help of teachers and through sharing experiences with the other girls, am much more confident.

I am glad I can now pursue my dream of becoming a Human Rifhts Defender. In the slums, girls are mistreated and are also quite vulnerable . In future I will fight for their rights tooth and nail. For now I can only watch when am called names; prostitute, ugly, second hand, useless, fat girl! So many names that lay heavy in my heart.. I am slowly developing a thick skin..”

NB: Name changed to conceal the identity of the girl

About DREAMs IC

DREAMS Innovation Challenge is a project that was started with the understanding that in Kenya adolescent girls and women bear the the brunt of the HIV endemic, with females in the 15-24 age cohort accounting for21% of new infections (Kenya HIV Estimate Report 2014)

Low education attainment from dropping out of school is one of the factors that predispose girls and young women to the risk of getting HIV. This project targets adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24years who have dropped out of school and are from resource poor households who are at risk of early marriage, expectant or have children, community members of Siaya, (Sihay, Nyalenya) and Nairobi (Kangemi and Mukuru) as well as duty bearers, service providers who are responsible for supporting the participation of AGWYs in education and transition to secondary school.

The project dubbed ‘Keeping girls in School’ seeks to address the livelihood that girls and young women will drop out of school as a result of lack of support to effectively deal with gender related issues, specifically puberty, sexual reproductive health and HIV thus increasing their vulnerability to HIV.

Girl Child Network (GCN) is working in partnership with LVCT Health, Grow and Know, and Afrucan Voices Foundation under the coordination of Trocaire on the DREAMs IC Project in rural Siaya and the urban informal settlements of Nairobi to address the underlying access, enrollment and retention issues among girls in secondary school.

 

 

I have never healed

Pru's Notebook

I met her at a meeting in Nairobi in 2015, she is bubbly, we stayed in touch through Facebook. When I called out to elite women to share their stories of victory against abuse, she inboxed me admitting that she was not sure whether she had really overcome, I told her to share anyway. She had written something about her experience but never had the guts to share it really and all I needed to do was to review.

Fresh at the university, I met James in March 2011 through my cousin Denis. I was a virgin that knew neither trust nor love.

My trust was leaning on the fact that Denis and I were close.  I held onto the old adage that “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are” besides my physical eye, I could not see beyond the man that I was attracted…

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Reflecting upon this years’ #16DaysOfActivism (Kenya)

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Ruth Kilimo(left), Natalie Robi (Centre) and Lynn Njoki (right)- Amazing young women, Founders of grassroots organizations-dedicated to serving girls-catching up during a health break at the #Women4Women forum

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!

Anita Nderu Advocates for Safe PSV Rides in Kenya

 

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An Embassa Sacco Bus plastered with a sticker displaying a hotline number

(40beba! 40bebaWa haraka beba, wa haraka ingia!

Wawili wa Embakasi , wa haraka twende!) Touts calling out.
Continuous hooting, engine roaring, dust and exhaust fumes flaring as busy pedestrians dart in between the reckless vehicles.

Careful! warns a pedestrian next to me as a Boda Boda operator narrowly misses smashing through me in lightening speed!

Well, these are some of the sounds and scenes we encountered on the 12th day of the #16DaysOfActivism as we launched a campaign to end sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) within public transport vehicles in Kenya- at Nairobi’s Accra Rd.

While chit-chatting with the public present at the Embassava Bus Terminus, it emerged that it is a common trend and that almost every female has experienced some form of violence-Be it Physical, verbal or sexual abuse- while using public transport vehicles in Nairobi and other cities across the country.

In November this year, a matatu driver raped two passengers in separate attacks in Nakuru,including a 15 year old girl. In a separate recent incident that took place in Molo, a driver ‘regularly raped his passengers’. These are just few of the the many cases in which women and girls have been sexually assaulted while using public transport vehicles. Apparently, many  other incidents go unreported because again Kenya does not have a database dedicated to dealing with instances of SGBV on public transport meaning victims do not get assistance as they ought to!

It is for this reason that Equality Now, The National Safety and Transport Authority (NTSA) together with a number of Civil society organizations (FEMNET,FIDA-Kenya, KELIN, FLONE) launched a campaign dubbed ‘Nyanga Safe’ (Safe Matatu for women and girls).

The meritorious campaign launched on 6th December 2017 was meant to raise awareness about sexual gender based violence in public vehicles and encourage women and girls to speak out. The campaign was also meant to push for severe action available in the law to those found culpable.

Similarly a hotline (0709932000) and a google play store App by NTSA dedicated to handling such offenses was also availed to passengers.

Addressing the media, Equality Nows’ Office Director Faiza Mohamed urged women and girls across Kenya to be aware that they have support of the relevant institutions including NTSA. She encouraged them to speak up and speak out against the shameless perpetrators. She further acknowledged that the partnerniship will in the long run birth a special gender desk at police station which will be dedicated to handling cases of Gender Based Violence in PSVs.

Also present at the event was a renown TV and Radio personality, Anita Nderu. Anita is one among the thousands of girls and women who have experienced sexual assault while riding in the public service vehicles.

In unflinching courage, Anita, impeccably dressed strutted from her workplace at Lonrho House, Capital FM to Accra Rd (Down town) to speak to public service operators and the general public as well as share her story with the media at the press briefing and take part in the great campaign.

Anita’s Experience;

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Anita Nderu displaying a sticker with a message against lexical harassment in PSVs

‘ My boob was groped while traveling in a bus’ Said the 27 year old Anita.

Tears crept in her eyes…. she paused for seconds, and finally gathered courage and continued narrating her ordeal. ‘The man did not stop! In fact when I confronted him he said we have boobs so that we can be touched!’ To her dismay, when she informed the conductor, he senselessly said to her that there is nothing he could do!

Anita who has shared her story on wider platforms such as BBC called out on women to courageously speak out about violence in public spaces because by keeping quiet they are empowering the perpetrators.
The Hope

“The existence of Public Transport Saccos has been a major step in managing discipline among Matatu operators.” Said Mr. Hared Hassan, Deputy Director Head and Enforcement NTSA. Speaking to the media, Mr. Hassan pointed out that while there is a code of conduct guiding Matatu operators,his department is committed to ensuring that there is safety in public transport vehicles and that passengers are respected. He additionally called for tougher disciplinary measures for anyone that would be found violating girls and women.

In June this year, a pump attendant, a driver and his conductor were sentenced to 25 years each for sexually assaulting their female passenger. The conviction was celebrated by the public who saw the verdict as ‘a strong message to those with similar manners’

While there exist various challenges towards achieving a society free from Sexual and Gender Based Violence, such commitment by various key institutions indeed give hope to a better society in the near future