Each and every Wednesday of the week Saumu Mwadime and Eunice Baya sets out to traverse through the villages of Kilifi North Sub-County with a mission to hold conversations with the communities and get an in-depth understanding into the issues that bedevils communal coexistence; of core concern to them is gender based violence which has a damaging impact on the education of many girls around Kilifi County.
Despite legislative measures, Kenya is still facing great challenges in curbing illicit alcohol consumption more so, in rural communities where alcohol and substance abuse is easily accessible some of the most visible effects is the productivity of men and young people, increase of gender based violence and crime in the community.
“I had a vision to be a member of the County Assembly of Meru not because of the money but because I had mission to take the women agenda forward.”
These are the words of Lucy Mukaria the chairperson of the Meru Women Legislative Association (MEWOLA) who believes that leadership is about goals and the ideals of the community. She says that despite the societal barriers, women must rise up and take up leadership positions; be it elective or appointive.
As a young widow, she deserted her in laws and matrimonial properties taken away and left without any support. She was left without a penny to fend for her three children. What was so agonising to her was the cultural stigmatisation that widows went through in the village; they are taken as outcasts.
“When I started living as a single woman and with no much support, the thought of the other widows crossed my mind. What about the single mothers that were not working? What about women in the community whose lands are taken away by the elders or clan and never made to be part of the decision regarding the community or their families? I asked myself why women aren’t getting opportunities like men? ” She explains while noting that the disparities are as a result of the imbalanced power relations.
In Meru County where Mukaria ails from, women are disadvantaged when it comes to land ownership. This is despite the progressive and robust legal frameworks on land ownership in Kenya; a clear indication on the of the non-balanced power dynamics and cultural inequality when it comes to land allocations between men and women. This inequalities are also transited to the political governance even at the village level up to the highest governance levels.
“These experiences however put me at a better place in understanding the challenges women go through. All these are not ‘women issues’ but societal issues,” she says.
For Mukaria, the Constitution of Kenya 2010 was a game changer towards the right direction. Its provisions on the two-thirds gender principle was a step forward in pushing the equality agenda which for a long time has been underpinned by patriarchal systems where political engagement has for a long time been dominated by men.
Her leadership journey has been on the glimmer for decades; she started off her career in the civil society but the climax she says is when she got involved in the The Katiba Sasa! Campaign during the clamour for the CoK 2010. The campaign advocated for the speedy enactment of the constitution to ensure a free governance space. This placed her at a position to engage with the governance system and penetrate through the party structure.
As a figure that was now well known and recognised in the civil society as well as the grassroots political arenas, she got elected to be the Councillor of the then Meru Municipal Council in the old constitutional order.
“I made a name out of the campaigns. I was known for social justice but I wanted more than just the connotation of ‘flower girls’ for women leaders. Coming into the County Assembly of Meru in 2017, she galvanised the support of other 23 women to form a caucus that would ensure that the operations and policies enacted by the County Assembly are engendered,” says Mukaria.
She adds: “As women we must know how to manoeuvre through political spaces, for me one of the best strategy I ever made in during the 2017 general elections was to align myself with a political party. I got to understand what how the political party systems work. I made male politicians my alias and even though I lost in the elections, I was specially elected to sit at the Assembly based on my track record.”
With the technical support from CREAW through the Wajibu Wetu project, Mukaria and other female MCAs under the banner of the MEWOLA developed a Strategic Plan with an aim to champion and advocate for gender sensitive policies at the county level.
Through the MEWOLA, the MCAs will continuously advocate for stronger women movements to champion for equality in development processes
A 30 kilometers journey from Kilifi town leads us to Chasimba in Chonyi, one of the six Sub-Counties haboured within the oceanic County of Kilifi. It is about midday and the sun is warming up to usher us into a rather cool and conversational afternoon.
Over the roads, the greenery sight of maize plantations and the swaying palm trees that invokes the serendipity of freshness and harmony welcomes us to a village that has long reconciled with a past filled with crime. Incidences of GBV
It is here that wails of children and women enveloped the villages over the years and as Merceline Akinyi puts it; “not a day, not a week went by without the wails of children robbed off their innocence being heard in the nearby thickets.”
As a well known anti-GBV crusader in her village, Akinyi recounts the many nights women spent over at her home as they escaped from violent spouses. She tells the tale of the many cases of gender based violence (GBV) perpetrated by bodaboda riders yet the area lacked a fully functional police post to lock up perpetrators or safe shelters for survivors.
Today, hope is brought alive as the community gears to the opening of a newly established Chasimba police station; a first of the first since time immemorial. This has brought with itself a sense of safety and security among communities in the surrounding areas.
“The nearest police station we have ever had is located in Kilifi town; 25kms away. We had to travel miles away to report crime,” she says, adding “follow-up of cases becomes challenging with a transportation cost of Sh800 each day and most cases ends up being thrown out of court.”
It is a tale that Inspector Paul Achebi based Bando Salama DCC’s office in Chonyi knows to well. He grins as he narrates to us how Chasimba Police; located three kilometers away from where he sits has eased his work.
“Currently we do not have vehicles to transport suspects to Kijipwa where we have holding cells or to court. Most of the time we use bodabodas and run the risk of suspects escaping,” narrates Inspector Achebi.
Achebi tells us that he has had incidences where he uses his own car to support survivors to follow-up on their cases in court but he is happy that the Chasimba Police station will have all the infrastructure and resources needed to improve police response to criminal activities in the area. And so what did it take to get the police station?
Mwanajuma Kusa has lived in Chonyi since birth, she has lived through the insecurity and seen it all; how the bodaboda riders would slash to death residents, the cold bloodbaths by organized criminals like the outlawed Mombasa Republican Council (MRC)- calling for a responsive government to the needs of Coastal communities.
And the cases that add more salt to what Mwanajuma terms as the “evil that resides within the community” is the scourge of gender based violence that has left many homes broken, children left without mothers and fathers and many teenage girls defiled and impregnated by people well known to them: brothers, uncles, fathers and neighbours.
“We have a culture of ‘disco matanga’ that exposes girls to teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Despite the government outlawing such, the practice still persists in the community,” she says
Mwanajuma’s concern was to have a safer community for the many women and girls whose interest resides in her heart. As a member of Sauti Ya Wanawake, Chonyi Chapter, she gathered all the women to discus the issue of a police post being established a stone throw away from the villages.
“To gunner support, we first conversed with community members including the Kaya Elders. Together we agreed that we would approach the area Member of Parliament (MP),” recalls Mwanajuma.
She pauses and shifts to how it was challenging for them to stand before the Kaya Elders, knowing what the “traditions postulates”- voices of women are never taken into account. She says they stood firm and explained why it was time that the community got a fully-fledged police station. They needed to be heard not as “women” but as a community. It was a sigh of relief; their voices were heard and now they had a unity of purpose.
In the turns and sometimes postponement of meetings among the community and authorities, patience carried them through. “We knew even if it took years and ages, our call will be heeded,” she says.
In 2015, the MP would finally call for a meeting that included all the structures in the communities including the grassroots women leaders who have been at the forefront in the campaign. A committee was formed to fast-track the construction of the police post. Fast forward, in 2018 the dream of the community was born alive. Chasimba Police Station stands strong, tall and ready to kick. Addressing GBV
Inspector Achebi who has walked the journey with the women groups in the advocacies explains that he is happy with the network that the likes of Mwanajuma and Merceline have created.
He says, such network has helped in raising awareness on critical issues in the community. It is such that has helped changed the perceptions on issues of GBV and accorded women the strong voices to participate in spaces that were regarded as “male only.”
“In all honesty, it takes the community to create safe spaces for their coexistence. As a law enforcer, I have learnt that we should always create an understanding with each and every member of the community. I attend Chief barazas to listen to community concern and address their issues,” explains Achebi who is also the Chonyi Sub-County Commander.
Beatrice Charo confidently walks as she approaches us, with a fruity voice and a smile that paints a ray of sunshine allover her face, she greets us and ushers us in towards her living room. Here, she speaks passionately about the community she had called home for decades. It is here in the coastline town of Malindi that she had started her teaching career.
With the beautiful beaches that stretch across the horizons of the dark blue waves ocean; a picture is painted of a land at peace with itself yet down the sandy beaches, the cries of young girls making life in the twilight becomes just a whisper, and as Charo puts it, many girls are forced to drop out of school as a result of child exploitation that exposes them to sexual violence, early and forced marriages and child pregnancies.
“Often girls are forced into marital roles when their families betroth them as a trade off to ease poverty. These girls are forced to abandon their education and instead transition to fulfill the duties of wife and mothers,” she explains, noting that this limits girls’ ability to earn income and build sustainable earnings that will lift their families out of poverty and so the cycle of destitution in the family chain becomes limitless.
She says these limitless challenges that the girls face in the community also mirrors in their school performance vis-a-vis boys. Therefore, it is imperative that these learning environments must always be safe and gender inclusive to nurture a sense of responsibility and respect among boys and girls.
At Kibokoni Primary School where she teaches, she has made it her personal cause to ensure that girls are retained in school and that they enjoy safer learning environment free from any exploitation. She credits it to the knowledge that she acquired from several training sessions organized by CREAW for teachers in Kilifi County. In the trainings, teachers are trained on the aspects of gender-based violence (GBV), positive ways to discipline children and the rights and responsibilities pertaining to child protection.
“Every Wednesday, we have a forum where we sit with the girls to listen to the challenges they experience in and around school. This encourages them to speak up to avert severity of psychosocial issues and build on their self confidence,” she says.
Charo however is not alone in the anti-GBV war in schools; Getrude Karisa a teacher at the nearby Upewoni Primary School is elated that by virtue of being teachers, they have the opportunity and responsibility to nurture the voices of school going children under their care to be able to speak out on GBV. Both Charo and Karisa are members of the Beacon Teacher Movement.
The Beacon Teacher Movement is an initiative of the Teachers Service Commission that was initiated to give teachers the opportunity to promote child protection in their schools and communities. The teachers are trained to create awareness of child rights and responsibilities among learners and what to do when they are abused.
Karisa’s major concern is the numerous night Disco matangas- night vigil dances around Malindi attended by men, women and children to dance the night away in celebration of the deceased. Beneath the celebrations, men prey on young girls.
Kilifi has been cited as one of the counties with high prevalence of teenage pregnancies conceived mostly at the local disco matangas. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) 22 percent of girls aged between 15 and 19 in Kilifi County have began child bearing which is higher than the national statistics which stands at 18 percent.
“A week cannot go by without the night vigils. Many girls are defiled and some end up being pregnant and infected with sexually transmitted diseases in the process,” says Karisa.
She notes that communities must now move away from the popularisation of night vigils, which are unsafe to their daughters. They must have candid conversations on how to protect children. She recalls of a recent incident where a 16-year-old girl who schools at Upewoni was defiled by 18 year old in a disco matanga and the families were unwilling to talk about it or report the issue to the police.
How then does she handle such matters?
“I noticed the girl was pretty much disturbed and unusually quiet while in class. I called her aside and we talked at length, she opened up. We reported the case to the police. The matter is now in court,” Karisa says.
In Kilifi, the County Government issued a directive that banned disco matangas citing the rise in cases of sexual abuse and HIV infections among minors. Despite that night vigils still continues under the watch of local administration officials who collude with communities.
Both Kibokoni and Upewoni Primary schools have speak-out boxes installed in key locations that pupils post their issues. During the monthly parents meeting, the teachers are given an opportunity to educate parents on child protection and to handle GBV incidences when they arise.
Karisa’s main motivation lies with the fact that her parents gave her the opportunity to go to school despite the cultural conservatism on girls’ education among the coastal communities.
“I would not be where I am if I was not empowered through education. I have to ensure all the other girls also get to experience what it means to ascend through education and become responsible adults,” says Karisa.
In the rural parts of Kilifi, many girls are at risk of violation; most common is gender based violence (GBV). Over the years, the County has recorded incidences of child pregnancies and child marriages which has remained a major barrier to them accessing and transitioning to higher levels of education.
Cases of early pregnancies among school going children are widespread and a contributing factor to high incidences of school dropouts. According to a baseline survey on GBV conducted by CREAW in the County of Kilifi, cultural practice such as night vigil dances is largely to blame for the rising cases of teen pregnancies.
In 2018 alone, more than 14000 cases of pregnancies among school going children were reported by the Children’s Affairs Department. The girls affected are between the age groups of 13 and 19. The worrisome statistics tells the tale of many girls whose education has been cut short as they transition to motherhood roles.
In the wake of this, the office of the Women Representative through the Affirmative Action Fund has prioritised on educating girls to build a generation of informed, empowered and skilled girlhood.
The chairperson of the Affirmative Action Jonathan Mativo spoke to CREAW about the scholarship initiative and how it is building sustainable livelihood for women and offering girls an opportunity to access basic quality education from disadvantaged homes within Kilifi. CREAW: What is Affirmative Action Fund (AAF)? Jonathan: Affirmative Action Fund (AAF) is an initiative of the national government that targets the vulnerable in the community. Established in 2015, the fund seeks to address the plight of vulnerable groups through enhanced access to financial resources for socioeconomic empowerment among women, youths, PWDs, needy children and the elderly. Currently, the Office of the Women Representatives in their respective counties manages the fund. Kilifi has been widely reported as among the counties that records high number of child pregnancies. How do you think your scholarship and mentorship initiative will address the plight of many girls across the county?
We are committed to ensuring that families who live below the poverty rate are empowered and able to meet their daily needs as well as create sustainable livelihoods. Our initiative primarily targets to create access to livelihood support for women and access to secondary and tertiary education for disadvantaged girls from extremely poor households in Kilifi.
I will give you an example of a girl named Kadzo. ‘She comes from a family of eight. She is in class five and none of the siblings has ascended to higher education for lack of school fees. In the family, they do not have access to health and are not able to access information on critical issues that include getting access to bursaries.’ This is a scenario mostly depicted among families in Kilifi. AAF is mostly for the inflicted: women, girls and the elderly.
Our initiative provides yearly scholarships for many girls like Kadzo. We believe that with the strong educational background, women and girls have the capacity to achieve their goals and create financial freedom for themselves and their families.
What are the challenges that girls face everyday in Kilifi?
Apart from poverty that ravages their livelihoods, girls are at risk of violations such as gender based violence. Many of them are married off to older men at a young age; transitioning them to parental roles and are not able to ascend to higher levels of education. This limits their chances of accessing quality basic education subsequently employment opportunities to support their families. Additionally, cultural practices give preference to boy child education at the expense of girls. Such creates inequality in the community. Owing to the myriad challenges above and the glaring gender-gaps in the education of boys and girls, how does your initiative address the inequalities?
We give priority to girls due to the fact that transition rate is low amongst girls, however we also give scholarship to boys from disadvantaged families. But even with that, we know that there is need to address the deeply rooted cultural norms and barriers that disadvantage both boys and girls. The more reason why we are partnering with development organizations and partners like CREAW with community focused initiatives to bridge the gap.
Apart from the scholarships, we are also partnering with the national government to provide Information Communication and Technology skills training for unemployed youth. We traverse through the villages, set up computer packages classes for youths. The trainings are done in monthly intervals in all the sub-counties. Currently we are in 17 villages, reaching out to over 2000 students. For six years now we have done over 60, 000 youths. Due to the nature of your work, how do you map out children who are in need of bursaries from the community?
We usually conduct community dialogues and visit households as well. In the dialogue we talk about the AAF and it goals. We also talk about the importance of ensuring all children enrol in schools at the right age and transition to secondary schools.
In the dialogues, parents, guardians or community members point out names of the children who are out of school for one reason or the other after which we do household visits to ascertain the situation.
We work with women groups; who bring along their children to forums. We sensitise them on what AAF aims at achieving and ways in which they can access the funds. They also are key in mapping out boys and girls who are challenged in accessing education in the community.
How many scholarships have you given so far?
In January this year we gave out 50 scholarships to 39 girls and 11 boys across the county. We capitalised more on girls who are disabled or those whose parents are people living with disabilities or they are affected by cases of GBV. Every year we commit to getting over 50 girls on full scholarships that takes them through to form four. Is it only bursaries or the scholarship also covers other expenses?
When we commenced the issuance of bursaries we realized that it was just a percentage of the money to address education needs of students. We needed to factor in logistical costs and basic needs. Apart from the yearly school fees, we also provide cash for pocket money and transportation to and from school. We do this to ensure we retain students in school and they are of good health for an improved performance.
Do you follow-up on the performance of the students that your initiative is supporting?
Yes. Every term we make visits to the various schools that the students are placed. We are keen on how they are performing in school throughout their education journey. Additionally, we encourage them to take up new skills through sports and joining clubs. Your term of office ends in 2022, are there measures that you have put in place to ensure sustainability of the scholarship initiative?
After the girls are done with high school one of our ideas is to set up an education fund to see the girls go through the full cycle of 8-4-4 system of education. We are also creating partnership with development partners to support girls through universities.
In the short term, we want them to go through high school, keep them safe in school and comfortable. When they go to school they are safe from frustrations in school, but when they come back, they are back to such frustrations. When our session ends in 2022 we will hand them over to the new AAF committees to continue supporting them through school. During school holidays how do you engage the girls within your cohort?
When schools are closed we organise mentorship boot camps for girls and young women. These boot camps provides safe spaces for the girls to voice out the challenges they are facing in school and at home.
During the mentorship sessions we bring facilitators and speakers the girls identify with and are role models in their sectors to motivate girls to be achievers. Some are more or less their peers. In the mentorship we also look at their after high school life, we want them to take up courses that informs their talent and those that also are meaningful to them.
I am also advantaged to sit in a consortium in Africa that speaks about the future jobs, we can easily start predicting how jobs will look like in 2030, so we prepare the girls on the environment and the dynamics of such jobs in future. We want to also mould the girls to support their peers in the community. When they close school we want to deploy them in the community like in dispensaries or other institutions to start developing skills and get reports. That is part of the mentorship program. We would want them to grow not only as educated but responsible people as well. You were born and bread in Kilifi and understand the challenges that bedevil the development of communities. What motivates you to support children more so from Kilifi?
I am so passionate about education because the community also educated me. When I finished high school my parents had no money to take me to school, the community did a fundraising for me and I got school fees for the entire four years. I know what it feels for a child who would not get the opportunity to transition to high school. As a community oriented person, I feel content when my community grows. Development is a collective effort and we must all participate to ensure we build a generation with the required knowledge and skills for sustainable livelihoods.
With the growing momentum to have women voices amplified at the decision making spaces more so in conversations on policies in the wake of the devolved governance systems, the call to build stronger women movements that speaks with a unity of purpose cannot be over stated.
In Meru County, the women Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) came together to form a caucus dubbed the Meru Women Legislative Association (MEWOLA) aimed at creating a space for the women leaders to champion for the rights of women and engender the legislative processes at the county level.
Through the MEWOLA the women MCAs have strategically positioned themselves to collectively influence the Assembly and work together with the County Government to deliver services to communities. The MEWOLA believes that effective women’s participation can influence change despite the historical inequalities.
On December 7, 2018 MEWOLA launched its inaugural five year Strategic Plan with an aim of harnessing greater partnerships between men and women legislators to promote gender equality through legislations and to increase the number, influence and impact of women political leadership and governance in Meru County.
During the launch, speaker after speaker emphasised on the need for formation of women caucuses in all the counties. Meru County is the second after Nyeri to have the women caucus launch their development roadmap.
While speaking at the launch the Meru County First Lady Priscilla Murungi appreciated the efforts of the women MCAs and extended her invitation to them to work with her office and the executive in their strategic focus.
“I congratulate the women who had the courage to stand up and be elected. Women have the power but in most cases they shy off because of the way they have been socialized,” said Priscilla.
The first lady who was the Chief Guest at the launch said that the society must begin mentoring women at a younger age to sharpen their skills and build their confidence to participate in issues of societal good.
“We do not have to circumcise our girls to make them powerful women. We need to sharpen their brains to make them proud of their womanhood. We must also make our boys proud of who they are and supporters of their sisters. In this we build and equal society,” she emphasised.
The Governor Kiraitu Murungi who was also in attendance during the launch expressed confidence in the capability of women to transform communities stating that his government has a good will to empower women through the Meru Twaweza program both socially, economically and politically.
The Chairperson of MEWOLA Lucy Mukaria expressed that the caucus shall prioritise on result areas and seek resources necessary to implement the strategic activities to create significant impact in the governance of Meru County, seek better service delivery to people and create confidence as a trusted entity to effectively engage with communities.
“I extend my invitation to the likeminded partners: individuals, government, development partners to partner with MEWOLA. We can only hasten the achievement of our objectives if we work jointly with mutual understanding and cooperation,” said Mukaria.
Meet Beatrice Njeri, a Kenyan lawyer passionate about helping survivors of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) navigate through the often tedious and strenuous legal processes.
“My greatest achievement is when survivors are able to complete their legal journey. I am even happier when they are able to get successful convictions and perpetrators are held to account, making it a safer world for women to live their lives,” she says.
Beatrice, who works as a legal officer at the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) in Nairobi, understands the many challenges that the SGBV survivors have to go through while trying to access justice.
“Women are unable to pursue legal solutions for Intimate Partner Violence because of the way the issue has been socialized. In some cultures women have been socialized to accept violence as an expression of love; making it difficult for them to pursue their legal journeys,” she notes. The socio-economic status of women at the household level and the harmful societal norms can hinder access to justice for the survivors. As such, CREAW has adopted a two-pronged (prevention and response) approach in addressing SGBV under the access to justice program.
The Netherlands Embassy in Kenya supports the work of CREAW under the Accountability Fund which intends to strengthen the advocacy capacity of marginalized groups in society.
The story was first published by the Embassy of Netherlands in Kenya
May 24 2018, marked the beginning of a new milestone with a rather conversational and a very informative two-day colloquium for the Meru County Judges, Magistrates and other judicial officers.
The conversations on harnessing an effective and efficient judiciary in handling sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) matters had shifted to the county level, in this case; Meru County.
The Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) in collaboration with the Judiciary organized discussion to sensitize judges, magistrates and other judicial officers on Court decisions that have set precedents in determining SGBV cases with the theme: “Harnessing the emerging jurisprudence through best judicial practices, innovation and local remedies.” The judicial officers were keen to dissect the rampant cases of sexual violence against children in the county.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the colloquium in Meru, Justice Anne Ongijo noted the difficulty in handling cases where minors come into conflict with the law. She observed that when it comes to the criminal justice system in Kenya the courts are put in a predicament where there are not able to determine which of the minor to bring to book and as such; It is still a grey area that is currently been handled by putting both minors under protection and care through the children department or probation office.
“There is need to amend the Sexual Offences Act to effect that where a sexual offence has been committed between two minors, none of them should be charged in the court of law. It is a matter that should be dealt with in the community. Minors should be well educated on the dangers of premarital sex,” notes Justice Ongijo.
Justice Ongijo also delve into the infamous ruling issued by Judge Said Chitembwe who freed a 24 year old man convicted of defiling a minor. Chitembwe who served as the Malindi Court judge then, failed to convict the accused person, arguing that the minor behaved in a manner likely to suggest she was an adult.
“Such rulings sets bad precedents for our justice system and exposes minors to further violations,” she adds.
Under the Sexual Offences Act, a child below the age of 18 years cannot give consent to sexual intercourse and therefore, all intimacy with children, willing or not, is defilement.
Muthomi Thiankolu of Muthomi and Karanja Advocates however noted a landmark ruling by High Court in Meru where a group of young girls successfully challenged the government on its inaction regarding sexual violence against children.
“The case is commonly referred to as the “160 girls case.” The petitioners in this case were majorly girls who had been defiled on diverse dates by a teacher. When they reported the matter to police, their case was mismanaged; the police were not willing to record statements or do proper investigations,” narrated Thiankolu.
Thiankolu who was the lead advocate in the case say when the matter went before the High Court in Meru, the judge ruled in favour of the girls, ordering the police to conduct prompt and effective investigations into each girls’ cases as well as take measures to fulfill their constitutional duties to comply with human rights standards in all cases of defilement.
“This case made a legal history in Kenya and globally as it brought to light the plight that many survivors of sexual violence have to endure before perpetrators are finally brought to book. This is a classic case that depicts the importance of strategic litigation in the society,” says Thiankolu.
Over the past few months there has been a wave of storm of sexual violence in school majority to which are committed by teachers who are supposed to be the custodians of learners while in school “loco parentis”.
In 2017, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) struck off 71 male teachers for misconduct. In 2016, 22 teachers who had sexual relations with their students were banned from ever teaching in Kenya while in 2015, another 126 teachers were deregistered.
In the wake of this, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) said that principals would now be held accountable for the safety of learners in schools. But that is not enough; according to the teachers who spoke at this year’s annual head teachers conference in Mombasa, there is need for the installation of surveillance cameras in schools as well as the employment of former military officers to boost security and curb sexual violence in schools.
In the courtrooms however, judges and magistrates are concerned of the emerging incidences where teachers stand as sureties to colleagues who commit sexual offences. It is such that has opened the gates court petitions against TSC for the failure to provide safe school environments and thereby exposing learners to SGBV but also the risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS.
One such public interest litigations was one spearheaded by CREAW and litigated by John Chigiti of Chigiti and Chigiti Advocates. This case brought to light the plight of students in the hands of their amorous teachers. In this, TSC were ordered by the court to put in mechanism to prevent and effectively respond to G.B.V violations with the intent of protecting learners in school.
“TSC cannot shuffle paedophiles from one school to another, and finally, content itself with dismissals. It has to put in place an effective mechanism, whether through an inspectorate department within TSC or the Quality Assurance Department within the Ministry, to ensure that no-one with the propensity to abuse children is ever given the opportunity to do so. Dismissal, and even prosecution, while important, can never restore the children’s lost innocence,” read the judgment delivered by Justice Mumbi Ngugi in 2015.