CREAW, Author at CREAWKENYA

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July 4, 2021by CREAW

Getting into Kayole, an informal settlement within Nairobi, is not a walk in the park. The place is a beehive of activities, as everyone busies themselves with the hustle and bustle of eking a living. At the Masimba junction, we meet Raphaela Wangari, busy tidying up her shop. She has just received a new stock of eggs to add to what she had. Minutes later, her general store, commonly referred to as a duka, is a swam of activities as clients line up to buy basic commodities found at her shop.


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January 26, 2021by CREAW

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, government enforced social distancing restrictions among them the stay at home order in a bid to suppress transmission of the Coronavirus and keep people healthy, but for many women and girls home became a ‘danger zone’ as they were forced to be in the ‘lockdown’ with their abusive spouses, partners and family members and cut off from supportive network and resources that could help them.

The ordeal of one evening morning in early July, brings gloomy memories to 38 year old *Nafula (not her real name). Her husband of three years had turned against her; what started as verbal insults progressed real quick into physical leaving her bruised.

“It was not the first time that he was abusive to me. At one point he hired goons to beat me up,” recounts Nafula.

Nafula’s own abusive experiences form part of the statistics of countless women and girls whose lives have been affected by the wave of gender based violence during the pandemic. In December 2020, a report by the National Crime Research Center indicated that incidences of gender based violence had increased by 92 percent in the period of January and June compared to that of January and December in 2019, with murder, sexual offences, defilement, grievous harm, physical abuse, child neglect and child marriages taking the larger chunk of cases.

Similarly, the Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) has received increased cases of women and girls reporting violations. On average, CREAW would received 20 cases in a month, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the numbers have spiked to 34 cases necessitated by the social and economic effects of COVID-19 on women and girls. Consequently, the demand for legal and counselling support was on the rise.

Amidst the surge, CREAW rolled out a 24 hour hotline-0800-720-186 to help survivors like Nafula to access support services virtually including legal information, counselling, access to safe shelters and referrals to other GBV services.

With the support from grassroots community champions and messaging on community radios and social media, CREAW has been able to publicise the hotline that now have over flow of cases reported even from the counties in the outskirts of Nairobi.

“Through the hotline, survivors are able to get timely legal aid services, information and psycho-social support to rebuild their lives,” says Nereah Oderah, the lead Counsellor who supports survivors through the helpline.

With the support from UNDP, CREAW has adapted its interventions to provide free tele-counselling and pro-bono legal services to survivors of gender based violence among them, women and girls who reside in the informal settlements of Nairobi. A total of 597 GBV survivors benefitted from pro-bono legal assistance & advice during the pandemic period.

 

 


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January 26, 2021by CREAW

We meet Neema* (not her real name) in the informal settlements of Kawangware where she has been living for six months since her husband of 10 years beat her and threw her out in the cold in the wee hours of the night with her two children.

“For the last 10 years I have been married to him, there has never been peace in our home. Occasionally, we would fight even on the slightest provocation,” she says, adding that everything changed when she lost her job; her husband threw her and her two young children out in the cold, and she was left to fend for her children with no income in sight.

Sadly Neema* is not the only one facing domestic violence: her experience mirrors that of many women and girls who are increasingly being trapped with their abusers at home.

With the raging cases of COVID-19 pushing households into economic slumps, women and girls “locked” with their abusers are also finding it difficult to seek safety away from violence marred homes- cutting them off from their supportive networks and resources that could help them.

Like Neema, Kadija ( not her real name) is also another survivor of domestic violence from the informal settlements of Kibera. It has only been a month since she left the shelter where she had sought refuge after receiving constant abuse from her husband that only worsened during the pandemic.

“I am unemployed and depended on my husband. Because of the pandemic, he received a pay cut and we could barely afford to pay for food and rents. Many times we would fight even over minor things. I feared for my life and that of my children,” says 29-year-old Kadija who is now separated with the husband.

As the pandemic keeps raging on, CREAW’s owned hotline-0800720186 has been a buzz with women and girls making frantic calls to report violations and seek legal and referral services. On average, the hotline receives 90 cases in a month, this compared to 20 cases during the same time last year. Similarly, the rising incidences of violence against women and girls have been further affirmed by the data from the National gender based violence (GBV) hotline 1195, indicating a 55 percent surge with women accounting for nearly 70 percent of those cases.

With the pandemic disrupting access to essential support services to survivors of GBV, CREAW, with the support from UNDP Kenya, adapted its intervention in the community during the pandemic to ensure that women and girls- survivors, especially those living in the informal settlements of Nairobi receive the much needed support to heal and build resilience beyond the pandemic.

This includes, free legal information and representation, psychosocial support to help survivors heal from their traumatic experiences. In-addition, CREAW also integrated the survivors to the existing livelihood cash reliefs intervention supported by the European Union in Kenya and shelter services as they reorganise their lives.


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June 3, 2020by CREAW

Accelerating Commitments, Investments and Action on Addressing VAW/G during and Beyond COVID19

June 4, 2020 | 2:00pm – 4:00pm

REGISTRATION: https://bit.ly/2MjPBxK

The COVID19 pandemic is an unprecedented global health emergency that continues to impact on the lives of millions of people in Kenya and across the world. While enormous efforts have been put into the containment of the novel corona virus, women and girls continue to be at risk of the secondary impacts of the pandemic such as gender-based violence.

To contain the spread of COVID19, the government of Kenya announced various measures including quarantine of people with travel history, encouraging people to stay and work from home, and putting in place a national curfew that runs from 7p.m. to 5am. Other measures include closures of schools, restaurants, places of worship, entertainment places and limiting public gatherings to not more than 15 people. While these preventive measures have been designed to keep people healthy slow and manage the spread of COVID-19, they trigger further discrimination and violence against women and girls. As evidence show, Crises do exacerbate age, gender, and disability inequalities and place women, girls, and other vulnerable populations at increased risk of Sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) and intimate partner violence (IPV). With the closure of schools, civil society groups have reported an increase in teenage pregnancies, as well as transactional sex and FGM. Sexual Violence has been on the rise and reported cases include women who have been thrown out of the rental houses due to non-payment of rent and have in the assaulted while seeking shelter in abandoned buildings. The intersectionality of Poverty and the effects of COVID has disproportionately impacted more on women and girls.

Evidently, as the numbers of confirmed cases of COVID19 infections rise, so are the numbers of GBV cases being reported. In the period of March and May 2020, the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) recorded a 64% increase in incidences of sexual and gender-based violence affecting women and girls across the country with a majority of this being Intimate Partner Violence.  Additionally, the Judiciary and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions have recorded an increase of more than 30% of the cases being reported.

Investments to prevent and respond to violence against women have long been at crisis point. With already limited capacities and investment to address violence against women, this increase in violence is happening at a time of further reduced capacity of service providers (health, police, social care, charities) to cope with the demand.

This crisis presents us with an opportunity to increase our investments, harness our commitments and build solidarity to Ending violence against Women and Girls. Particularly, identifying concrete actions to prevent and respond to the VAW/G both in the short term and long term during and after the public health crisis.

Purpose:

The objective of this virtual meeting is therefore to bring together a diverse group of government leaders, policy makers, civil society and other stakeholders to discuss and identify strategies to ending Violence against women and girls. The webinar will include an overview of the issue in the National context, how existing response programs have adapted to protect survivors amid restrictions on movement during the pandemic, and possible solutions and policies to protect survivors and prevent and/or reduce violence in the long-term. As this pandemic has confirmed, Gender Based Violence is deeply rooted in the inequalities in the society.

There has never been a time before that has demonstrated the definition of prevention of GBV as life saving. This is the single reason we all must rally together and challenge the status quo, put in action definitive preventive measures and in the event of violence, ensure access to timely and immediate quality services.

Webinar Objectives:

  1. Highlight the efforts and investments made to responding to incidences of Violence against women
  2. Underscore the importance of investing in Prevention as well as response efforts
  3. Highlight the innovation around Prevention and Response
  4. In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Service and Gender, call to action on Prevention and Response Efforts.

Panelists

  • Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary, The Ministry of Public Service and Gender

  • Anna Mutavati, Country Director, UN Women

  • Wangechi Wachira, Executive Director, The Centre for Rights Education and Awareness

  • Alberta Wambua, Executive Director, Gender Violence Recovery Centre

Moderated by Linda Kroeger, Human Rights Lawyer and Programme Officer, KELIN


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February 6, 2020by CREAW

By Christine Ogutu

For 12 years Margaret Sepengo was a renowned female circumciser in the remote village of Leparwa tucked in the north of Isiolo County.

In 2015 she abandoned the cut all thanks to the sensitization efforts by CREAW auspiced under the Tunza Mama Na Mtoto project aimed at empowering communities to abandon retrogressive cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) that inhibits on maternal and newborn health.

With the support from UKAid through Christian Aid, the project that is in its third year of implementation adopted a community mobilization approach dubbed SASA! (Start, Awareness, Support, Action),to educate and inspire communities to take actions for social change.

Margaret was lucky to be among those who were capacity built on maternal health issues and how they can use the knowledge to advocate against FGM, early marriages, teen pregnancies and gender based violence all of which are rooted deep in culture and the leading causes of maternal and newborn motilities and morbidities in the larger Isiolo County.

“It is the trainings that enabled me shun the practice and engage in alternative source of livelihood,” says Margaret who is now a respected community activist who is using the SASA! model to change perceptions and attitudes of her community towards FGM.

Female Genital Mutilation as she puts it, used to be the cornerstone of livelihoods for many households but the situation has changed. When she learned the art of the cut, her only motivation was to eke a living.

“I used to admire an elderly neighbour who used to circumcise girls and would earn a lot of money. Being a third wife and an only breadwinner in the family, I learnt the art and would make Sh1000 from each girl. The prices would go up to Sh2500 during high season and sometimes poor families will offer their goats or cattle,” she says.

“With the sustained community dialogues targeting the council of elders, men and women, the community has opted abandoned the age-old tradition,” she adds.

In her quest to have the elders lift the ban on the curse placed on any man who marries uncircumcised girl, Margaret reach out to the Masaai Morans to have the elders allow them to marry uncut women. The elders agreed to their quest and held a public forum to ‘break the curse.’ The forum held in Laikipia brought together the young and elderly from Masaai, Turkana and Samburu communities. This was a great step towards eradicating FGM.

“During the exchange visit between reformed circumcisers from Isiolo and Kajiado, I learnt the different initiative that my counterparts were using to have the elders to create a by-in with the elders who are the custodian of culture. I came back and embarked on the same. My efforts bore fruits,” explains the mother of four.

“Among pastoralist communities, uncircumcised girls were doomed to be a bad omen and outcasts. The blessings symbolized an end to the cut among the communities,” she says, adding, “ This was a step to ensuring that women and girls would now be free from early marriages and complications experienced during childbirth associated to FGM. “

Aside from her proactive activism in her community, she has enrolled herself into adult education program now in level three. She explains that like many girls in her community, she was married off to an elderly man at the age of 14 and was not able to ascend through to high school.

“If we give girls the opportunity to go to school, we will be able to break the cultural barriers and make healthy decisions for their reproductive health and that of their families and children,” she says.

 

 


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February 4, 2020by CREAW

By Christine Ogutu

Thursday afternoon, the weather is chilly and the usually busy Githongo pitch has no sight of any young ones kicking around the ball in the pitch or athletes working out as in the usual. In the surroundings, the densely constructed shelters are slowly shifting the small rural town of Githongo to an urbanized community center.

Utawala Chiefs Group at the Githongo Chief Camp. PHOTO/CREAW

Looking on to the vast field in the left corner is the Githongo Chiefs Offices. Outside, a group of women and men are seen chit chatting. Their starched and well-pressed brown khaki uniform brings their steadfastness to the fore; their threaded shoulders mark them out as protectors and defenders of the larger community as their call of duty bestows them.

The uniformed women and men are Chiefs from Imenti Central, Meru County who came together to establish the 14 members Utawala Chiefs Group with an aim to better provide coordinated response to GBV matters in their localities. Today, they are having their usual biweekly meetings to discuss the emerging issues in the community.

At the location level in Kenya’s administrative system, Chiefs are charged with mandate to maintain order within their jurisdiction. For the Utawala group, the work in the community goes over and above their call of duty. They derive passion from a violence free society where women and girls live in dignity, are better protected and able to move freely and thrive and thus their continued conversations and coordinated response to the ills that bedevils their community.

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For more than two years now, they have been working together, raising their voices and driving conversations through Chiefs’ Barazas to educate their communities on the ills of GBV and the channels of reporting.

“I was privileged to be part of the Chiefs’ training that taught them on how to handle and support survivors when they report violations,” says Faith Kagwiria, a Chief at Kathurune West Location and also a member of the Utawala Chiefs.

As the first respondent when an incident occurs, it is paramount that Chiefs like Faith are well vast with the roles and responsibilities they play in regards to the various matters reported thus, CREAW through the Haki Yetu Jukumu Letu initiative came in handy to build their capacity to enable them to effectively support survivors and respond to the needs of the locals.

The initiative now in its third year of implementation and supported by the Embassy of Netherlands in Kenya equips Chiefs among other duty bearers with the knowledge on GBV related laws, how to document and report matters as well as how to set up community structures that promotes safe spaces in the community.

“Not a day goes, without widows flocking my office puzzled, confused and bewildered when their in-laws take away their matrimonial lands,” narrates Phyllis Mungatia who is the Chairperson of the Utawala Chiefs.

She says the inequalities when it comes to access and control of matrimonial land particularly in the agricultural rich region of Meru disenfranchises women.

It is such that draws the Utawala group to work with a unity of purpose. Their work in the community is slowly gaining momentum with the continued conversations, the community is slowly opening up and speaking out on matters such as incest that were shelved at family level.

“Apart from the weekly chief barazas, we also conduct targeted dialogues with men, women and in schools,” explains Stella Kinoti.

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She goes on to say that they have also consistently taught the village elders and area managers on how to tackle GBV noting that it takes both individual and community actions to create a ideal community for all. The Nyumba Kumi clusters have also come in handy to map out cases like female genital mutilation and child neglect.

But as Lucy Magiri puts it, their success has not been without the challenges. Sometimes they are forced to flee their homes or handle cases under cover for fear of their lives. Nonetheless, together, they affirm that their actions are just a starting point to lasting change in the community. They are positive that with their collective efforts, their neighbourhoods will violence free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 31, 2020by CREAW

In Kilifi County, pregnancy remains a key barrier to girls’ education. In 2018 alone, over 17000 girls fell pregnant – some of the cases are attributed to wayward bodaboda riders who lure young girls with gifts and impregnate them; some girls also fall pregnant after being molested by those they trust most: relatives teachers and clergymen.

When we meet 16 year old *Riziki at her maternal grandparents home, she is cuddling her two year old son- a product of an affair she had with the bodaboda rider. Then, she was in Form two.

“I met him on my way to school and he offered to transport me,” she says. What followed were everyday rides that transitioned into sexual encounters.

“He promised to take care of me but denied being the father of my baby when I informed him I was pregnant,” says Riziki

Like many other girls in Kilifi, Riziki forms part of the statistics of girls whose dream to ascend higher in education and make their future a reality is cut shot by pregnancy emanating from wayward bodaboda riders.

In the wake of this, CREAW through the Haki Yetu Jukumu Letu initiative with the Embassy of Netherlands in Kenya incorporated the Bodaboda riders in the community outreaches where they learn how to ensure that children are safe and well protected from sexual violence and other ills in their communities.

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Daniel Tinga is the chairperson of Bodaboda riders in Kaloleni Sub County. He tells us that through the community outreaches he has learnt the dangers that sexual violence pose on the lives of young girls. From the lessons, he teaches his fellow riders to uphold respect and dignity of the women and girls they come into contact with.

“As a bodaboda rider I have the responsibility to ensure my customers whether young or old, arrive to their destination safely,” says Tinga.

In Ganze, Tinga’s counterparts are also organizing around the issue of defilement that has labeled them as perpetrators. In them is a resolve defy the ‘normal’ – they are building agency and using their voices to champion for good.

“ As a father I want, other girls in my community to grow well and complete their education just as my daughters. I want girls to fly high and build our village to greater heights,” says Shadrack Kazungu, a bodaboda rider at Matano Manne, Ganze Sub County.

He explains to us that after attending various community dialogues by CREAW his outlook on violence against women and girls has changed.

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“I learnt that cat calling and groping violates the rights of girls. Before I was never attentive to such matters because in my industry, they are ‘normal.’ I am glad there is a shift, the conversations have helped us build consensus amongst us,” he says while noting that, in their Association they are on the look out for individuals who goes against the ethics and conduct they have set as such, they are excommunicated and matters referred to the police.

At Kibaoni, the Bodaboda riders’ voices are even getting more louder in their day to day work. In their numbers, they want Kibaoni Bodaboda Association to be known for good. With their collective voices, they are certain that their community can only getter better.

“We have a good relationship with village elders and Chiefs within Kibaoni who help us in tackling gender violence matters even among our circles,” says Sudi Zalikini.

Writing by Christine Ogutu

 


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January 31, 2020by CREAW

Source: Daily Nation

By Moraa Obiria

Teen pregnancies among school girls is a worrying phenomenon in Kenya. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), notes that 378,397 girls aged 10 to 19 got pregnant between June 2016 and July 2017.

Similar data by Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014, indicates that about one in every five adolescent girls has either given birth, or is pregnant with her first child.

Notably, in November 2018, Kilifi County Children Affairs department released shocking statistics. They recorded 13, 624 pregnancies among girls aged 15 to 19 years in the past one year.

Incidents of deliveries among girls, during Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), often surface.

The same year, the Ministry of Education reported at least 50 cases of pregnancies during KCPE. Kitui County presented a classical scenario with a report of 100 pregnancies during KCSE.

Last year, a similar trend was reported in Bomet County during the KCSE with at least 12 pregnancies.

Across Africa, the structural systems are inflexible and inconsiderate of the burdens of adolescent mothers seeking to return to school.

As at 2018, 15 countries had re-entry policies for the girls, but the conditions set for the re-entry are repulsive.

The countries include Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique. Others are Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe

In Malawi, girls are suspended for one year the moment their pregnancy is known, according to a2018 Human Rights Watch report on discrimination of adolescent mothers’ discrimination in access to education.

There are conditions set for the young mothers to apply for re-admission. She must send a request to the Ministry of Education and the school she intends to join, as noted in theLeave No Girl Behind in Africa Discrimination in Education against Pregnant Girls and Adolescent Mothersreport.

In Zambia and Gabon, girls have a better chance of continuing with their education. The countries have policies privy to their additional needs. They ensure primary and secondary education is free; the girls have time to breastfeed, and can choose morning or evening classes. They also have nurseries and day-care centres close to schools where their babies are sheltered while they attend classes.

In Kenya, a proposed law on supporting girl-child parents to complete their education after childbirth is still pending in the Senate.

Care and Protection of Child Parents Bill

The Care and Protection of Child Parents Bill (2019) proposes a framework for ensuring girls such as those in Kilifi and Kitui are granted care and protection by the national and county governments to actualise their right to basic education while ensuring the care of their children.

The Bill sponsored by nominated Senator Millicent Omanga, mandates the national government through the National Council for Children’s Services to “address any educational and related barriers faced by pregnant and parenting students.”

The Council would also be required to “guarantee funding and sustainability of the initiative and other child welfare programs aimed at benefiting child parents.”

There is also a proposal that county education boards and county executive committee members for education collaborate in establishing “programs to ensure expectant children and child parents have access to education services.”

And that “academic support programs that ensure students with extended absences for reasons related to pregnancy and parenting, are able to enrol back to school or other education facility to access education services.”

The Bill has been reviewed by Senate Committee on Labour and Social Welfare, with the report being tabled in the House in November last year.

It would require National Assembly backing to become law. Upon approval by the Senate, it would be sent to MPs, before the Speaker of Senate forwards it the President to assent to it.

Long-term solution

Addressing pregnancies among the school girls is, however, not just about institutional structures with financial support, argues Dr Emmanuel Manyasa, an education analyst and Executive Director of Usawa Agenda.

“We have to be careful with giving financial support as it may end up being an incentive for pregnancy,” says Dr Manyasa who spoke to the Nation on phone.

He says allowing girl-child parents back to school must be accompanied with a long-term solution.

“Needy girls end up pregnant as a consequence of poverty. The girls must be freed from poverty to avoid repeat pregnancies.”

Ms Isabella Mwangi, of Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) underscores a multi-pronged approach to ending teen pregnancies.

She says the government, parents, teachers, religious institutions and community elders play a critical role in creating safe spaces for advancement of school girls.

Ms Mwangi says the government and religious institutions must agree on the introduction of sex education in schools, since sexual relations among teens is a reality that cannot be ignored.

She identifies recreational centres near schools as fertile grounds for luring girls, and the government ought to eradicate them.

She says parents must be responsible for teaching their girls and boys about their sexuality.

“Parents must nurture their children to know that they have a purpose in the society. Talking to their children is a responsibility they must not abdicate to anyone,” she notes.

While emphasising on role of community elders as custodians of cultural traditions, Ms Mwangi says they must be involved, as their influence in spearheading anti- retrogressive practices campaigns would lead to drop in teen pregnancies.