Gender Based Violence Archives - CREAWKENYA

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April 22, 2022by CREAWKENYA

When COVID-19 pandemic pocked its scary nose in Kenya, food insecurity, sexual and gender-based-violence and job losses, were some of the news making headlines in the local dailies. As many were obsessed with casting their nets on the effects of the pandemic, CREAW through its partners was delving deep into the murky waters to find a solution for more than 5,000 survivors of gender based violence.

To dignify and empower women economically, Cash transfer was part of the solutions as it had the potential to help vulnerable households stay off starvation, reduce the vulnerability of survivors and those at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.

Mary Bandi from Kayole in Nairobi was one such woman. She had lost her hotel job and was now doing laundry work that could barely meet the needs of her family. On the side, she had an outstanding mortgage loan that needed to be cleared.

“My husband and I had separated long before the pandemic. As the sole provider for my two children and I, the heat was too much. I even developed blood pressure due to the economic stress I was going through,” Says Mary.

With the cash transfer she received totalling to Kes 21,000, Mary started selling crisps by the roadside outside her house. Little by little, she got orders from mini-markets around Kayole, where she supplied in bulk.

In her own words, she got a second chance at life. Mary was invited for a business development training organised by CREAW, to help beneficiaries of cash transfer program work on their business skills even as they rebuild their lives.

“What stood out for me was stock taking, saving and investing. I realised from the money I got, little went into saving. That is when I started saving little by little to help me complete my house mortgage. In a few months’ time I will be through with the balance,” Proudly states Mary, casting her eyes around her house.

Thanks to the introduction of Jasiri Fund immediately after the business development training, Mary saw an opportunity to grow her crisps business as well as diversify into the fashion industry.

“I took a loan of KES 50,000. I spent KES 30,000 for buying 3 bales of handbags. From each bale I was able to make a profit of KES 40,200. This enabled me repay my loan in 3 months,” States Mary as she was taking us through her record book.

“Investing in women owned enterprises promotes economic development among women survivors of GBV. However, mainstreaming of GBV support services into the financial inclusion program is key to reducing women’s risk of experiencing violence as well as strengthening equal access to economic resources that enhances women’s empowerment.” Confirms Moses Okello, the Women Economic Empowerment Lead at CREAW, who has been supporting women under the program rebuild their life post-COVID-19.

By the time we were leaving her home, Mary had already gotten second approval for a loan of KES 65,000. She wants to use it in expanding her handbags business as well as find another branch for the same.

With support from Mastercard Foundation, through the Response, Recovery and Resilience Project in partnership with GROOTS and The Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development: CCGD, CREAW has been providing women like Mary with affordable financial services through Jasiri Fund. The fund is available in ten counties, that has enabled 1000 entrepreneurial women to access start-up capital to invest and expand their businesses.


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January 12, 2022by CREAWKENYA

Kadzo Samuel Kaingu is definitely a woman without limits. She epitomizes resilience, as her never giving up spirit is show cased through her carpentry business. A venture that is less trodden by women, especially for a middle aged woman who is a mother
of 6.

As the world was trying to come to terms with the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kadzo was equally struggling to put her life back to order. Her carpentry workshop in Naeni location in Kilifi county, one of the 6 coastal counties of Kenya, had been vandalized. All her investment and hard earned money was taken away by the robbers.

“I was left stranded with nothing to cater for my needs and that of my children. At that time, three of them were in secondary school so I urgently needed their school fees,” Says Kadzo.

With no one else to look up to, Kadzo started doing menial jobs like laundry work as well as working in construction sites. Her woes in search of a stable job continued, until she was identified by a community champion, who recommended her for business development training, that CREAW was conducting for women led businesses in Kilifi County, with support from Mastercard Foundation.

“Through the training, I came to learn a lot of mistakes I was making in my previous business. I never had a record of inventory, I was also poor in budgeting hence I could not account for the sales I would make. I was more eager to start on a clean slate,” She adamantly agrees.

From the training, Kadzo was among the women that were selected for a cash support of Ksh 15,000 (USD 150). She took care of her immediate home needs and reinvested the remaining Ksh 10,000 in her business.

“I got a workshop near Kiwandani Prison and bought materials needed to run the workshop. I am grateful that now I can comfortably account for whatever I make. I have a record of things sold like beds, tables and even doors, which are mostly preferred by people who are building homes around here,” Smiles Kadzo.

According to a 2020 study by the International Centre for Research on Women and Kenya Association of Manufacturers, raising start-up capital is one of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs in Kenya’s key manufacturing sector, with banks requiring collateral that most of them do not have.

However, CREAW with support from Mastercard Foundation was able to fill this gap by providing women like Kadzo with affordable financial services. Jasiri Loan Fund is available in three counties of Mombasa, Kilifi and Nairobi which has enabled entrepreneurial women to access start-up capital to invest and expand their businesses.

The joy and gladness on Kadzos face is a reflection of what women economic empowerment can do, to uplift businesses as well as improve livelihoods especially in women led homes, where majority are the drivers of the small scale economy in Kenya.


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October 21, 2021by CREAWKENYA

When Center for Rights Educations and Awareness (CREAW) Kenya, spread its wingHaki s to Kitui county to support women and girls facing violence in the community, Dorcas Belinta, a widow and founder of Mosa vision group, was only doing little to economically empower her fellow widows in Kisasi village Kitui Rural Subcounty.  

Luckily, she was among 30 women picked from 14 active women led community based organizations in Kitui county to undergo a training on how best they can support survivors of gender based violence, as well as create awareness in the community regarding the vice. The training which is supported by CREAW in partnership with ForumCIV under the Haki Mashinani project is implemented in Kitui and Nyeri counties. It was based on the SASA model, which addresses violence against women, in community-based approaches and aims at changing the attitudes and behavior of men and women.  

 The four-phase process, developed by Raising Voices in Kampala, Uganda, mobilizes communities for a change in social norms. The primary goal of SASA! is to reduce violence against women and girls by exploring the balance of power in intimate partner relationships and in broader community dynamics. 

 “After the training we had our first community dialogue, where we invited the chief, 3 religious leaders and village elders. It was an open session of learning and unlearning what we thought was right as a community” Says Dorcas. 

 The primary school teacher, was encouraged by feedback she got after the meeting. She would get invited to have a talk in other community dialogues as well as enlighten her students more on issues of sexual and gender based violence. 

 “Previously, Mosa Vision group was doing table banking and outreaches in schools distributing sanitary packs, but now the training has built our capacity in addressing violence against women in the community” Confirms Dorcas. 

 The mother of three is now fixing her eyes on the political scene, as she feels political good will is another key in advancing the gender agenda as well as championing for the rights of women and girls. 

 “I want to be the next woman representative of Kitui County in the 2022 general elections. I understand the plight of widows and want to champion for their rights to own property as well as access property left behind by their late husbands. Widows here don’t have people who enlighten them on their rights” Concludes Dorcas with a smile.

 As a GBV champion, Dorcas notes that there’s an emerging trend of economic violence aside from sexual violence in Kitui County. As a widow, she relates well with women involved in matrimonial property succession and marriage, that were proving hard for them to handle. With her eyes focused on her political ambition, Dorcas is a woman on the move to make it better for fellow women and the next generation of girls. 


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October 18, 2021by CREAW

Huge win for survivors of sexual and gender based violence as Kenya launches its first ever policy for the National Police Service (NPS) integrated response to gender based violence. Launched on the 13th October 2021, the Policy is intended to steer NPS in the establishment, management and operations of one-stop centers dubbed ‘Policare’ and is intended to provide comprehensive support services including legal, psychosocial support, police and health to survivors of gender based violence (GBV) at no cost.


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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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March 20, 2020by CREAW

By Grace Katee

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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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 16, 2020by CREAW

As we approach the New Life Tabernacle church in Nkubu, a sweet, soothing melodious sound fills the air. We are mesmerised! The heavenly tones are weaved in such a beauty that creates an aura of peace and serendipity.

Saturday evening and the sunset has filled the sky with deep red flame, setting the clouds ablaze. Inside the church, the red and sky blue curtains drapes around the iron sheet thatched walls, illuminating our minds to a rather conversational evening.

Seated at the right corner is Pastor Anthony Maina, deeply consumed in the melody. His fingers run over the piano keys so gracefully and he closes his eyes as he feels each melody he plays. He looks up and smiles to welcome us to the pulpit that has been his way of life for the last 20 years.

Maina’s calling goes beyond the pulpit; and as he tells it all, his vision has been to see an empowered society- his voice from the pulpit not only feeds his flock scripture wise, but also transfers words of nobility that mobilises his flock to address the plight of the community.

“For me, an ideal society is where everyone is aware of what is good and what is bad. I believe that everyone is gifted to make a difference however small their actions are,” he says holding his head a little higher; depicting hope for better.

Three years ago, Maina and 80 other pastors formed the Imenti South Pastors Association (ISPA); bringing together clergymen and women from various denominations with a common goal of uplifting the society and providing support to one another.

“We realised that we needed a collective voice to speak out on issues that affects our community,” he says.

Maina now the chairperson of the ISPA says he was privileged to be part of the community actors who were trained by the Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) on how to map out gender based violence, mitigate it and work with other county structures to ensure that women and girls are better protected and able to thrive in the community.

As a religious leader, Maina is an influential member of the community and as such his opinion on social matters is held with high regard.

Pastor Anthony Maina interacting with the New Life Tabernacle Church faithfuls. PHOTO/CREAW

His order of day entails daily church summons and pastoral visits in the community. It is here that he converses against social ills such as gender based violence (GBV) and advocates for respectful relationships among men and women.

As such, CREAW’s Haki Yetu Jukumu Letu initiative in partnership with the Netherlands Embassy works to capacity build religious leaders like Maina to continuously engage in conversations on matters GBV at the pulpit and in wholesomeness to shun bad behaviors and encourage community to coexist peacefully.

“Talking about GBV is not easy. Talking about it to a population that is highly patriarchal is even harder and requires skill, patience, charm and persistence,” says the Reverend whose calm, cheerful and friendly demeanour continue to bestow community confidence in him.

During our interactions, his community oriented perspective draws us to the personality and qualities that has enabled thrive as the man of cloth for decades, carving out a niche for himself as a much trusted ear of confession, shoulder to lean on and from whose lips wise counsel can be found by hundreds of his flock in the neighborhoods.

In the community, his deeds and that of fellow clergy in the ISPA speaks loud- a Kilometer away is the Nkubu Police Station where they are currently putting up a holding cell for women.

In one of the Court Users Committee, which he is a member, he got a report about a seven months old baby who died in the police holding cells.

“It is very undignified to lose a young life in such a manner. I engaged my fellow pastors and together we visited the station to ascertain the condition. To our surprise, adults were being made to share cells with children in dilapidated condition,” he narrates, explaining that they made a resolve to raise funds to establish a standard cell with sanitary structures, beddings and child friendly cells for women at the station.

He says the CuC sittings have enlightened him on the operations of the legal systems. More so, he has been able to understand the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms through the various court training. With the knowledge, he has been helping families resolve land feuds amicably.

“Every year, we map out the immediate social needs in the community, raise funds to actualise it and give it to the community,” say the Reverend.

In 2018, the group visited Meru Women Prison and saw the need for a more women friendly space. Again the ISPA through their table banking monthly contributions, bought mattresses, sanitary towels and other personal effects. This has gone along way in improving living conditions for Women in prisons.

One of the issues that Meru Community grapples with is the disinheritance of women especially when it comes to land ownership. This the Maina, attributes to lack of awareness on the law and inheritance.

“It is unfortunate that when husbands die, their widows are disinherited and left without means to build their livelihoods- we end up with a community where women are oppressed and a generation that is hopeless. Such is a source of disharmony. We must advocate for equal share of land,” explains Maina.

and about the future?

“We are looking forward to establishing a Counselling Center to help women and children deal with psychological trauma. We want to prevent cases of femicide and other forms of GBV. Thus we are engaging like-minded organisations and government structures to support the initiative,” he says.

Writing by Christine Ogutu


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January 15, 2020by CREAW

Meru Youth Arts Program (MYAP), have revolutionised their skits to not only build a buzz but also rally their communities against retrogressive cultural practices that promotes violence against women and girls.

Amid the wheat tucked in greenery fields, Meru stands tall as one of the counties that has enacted a sexual and gender based violence policy geared towards the prevention, response and management of gender based violence but beneath the milestone, the youth who form the larger population of the agricultural rich region still stare at a myriad of challenges, perpetuated by the societal underpinnings.

MYAP members at their youth center in Meru. PHOTO/CREAW

From unemployment, mental health issues, female genital mutilation to unwanted pregnancies, and now the skyrocketing cases of femicide pitying the youth at the mercy of their own struggles.

But is it a case of a failed system?

Not exactly, as MYAP tells us during the recent interview with CREAW. Despite the grueling challenges, the MYAP are turning the tides, amplifying their voices to push back the ills that bedevil their peers and the community at large. To them, dramatized conversations are just a starting point to change.

“As we speak about reproductive health issues among young people, we are also addressing the gendered inequality that brings squabbles to the community,” explains Santa Kagendo, the Organizing Secretary of MYAP.

“We came together to galvanize our voices through arts. In this, we knew the society would identify with the issues that mostly affect them. Key among them; female genital mutilation that denies young girls bodily autonomy and put their lives at risks,” adds Santa.

For MYAP, the power of creative words cannot be underscored when addressing gender violence; a topic that is a taboo in most household. Activism through art not only gives them the power to empower their peers but also change societal attitudes regarding issues such as female genital mutilation and domestic violence.

“Dramatizing issues in local dialects brings to touch the issue at hand with the community. People are not only able to understand but also internalize what repercussions violent actions could bring to families,” says Santa.

Every week the MYAP group has two days set aside to develop their skits based on the issues that emerges in their localities. Most of them are not only activists but also change agents in their own rights.

On this particular Saturday morning when we meet at their usual youth center tucked within the Family Care Medical Center, they are having a discussion about the wave of femicide that has rocked their peers.

Leading the conversations is Jamila Mohammed as the young men and women take turns to voice out their opinions. After, they head on to Gakoromone Market; some two kilometers away where they mesmerize the onlookers with their multicolored costumes and props. Soon, the crowd builds up.

“It always begins with an icebreaker,” says Clinton Mwenda alias Skinny

“Their skit is set in a household with a family of six. The couple in their fifties at first paints a picture of a happy home but behind the scene, the husband is hooving around with a 20 year old clandestine who is also in a romantic affair with the son.

After awhile, the wife is made aware of the husband’s meanderings and the home turns chaotic with revelations of HIV infections.” – Such paints the reality of household marred by domestic violence. How then do they address it?

“Conversations with market sellers that follows the street theatre, gives them an opportunity to query the violent actions and discuss bad behaviours collectively. They begin to understand that violence is unacceptable and adopt positive actions,” says George Kimathi.

The end game to them, is that women and men foster respectful relationships. “From where we stand, we believe each person can be part of the solution,” explains George.

Apart from the street theatre, MYAP also holds community dialogues in the villages and behavior change conversations in high schools and universities around Meru. They also use mass media to create awareness on GBV issues.

“So far the reaction has been good especially the youth who are now more comfortable to report and discuss issues affecting them,” he says.

Beyond their artistic prowess, their successes are also depicted in the manner in which they build partnerships with key GBV actors and county government structures for effective and quality service delivery to the populations that their group exists to serve.

“For a long term the most facilities in the County lacked youth friendly centers. Most youth were shying away from seeking health in hospitals because the spaces were not favorable for them and so we petitioned the county and now we have two centers that serve the youth,” explains Santa.

Writing by Christine Ogutu