I was out collecting firewood in the thickets when a man appeared from nowhere, held me down, covered my face and raped me….as a married woman my first instinct was to inform my husband. But this did not go as planned as he blamed me for having prior knowledge of the man and that I was not rapped.
“If indeed I had known the perpetrator why then would I inform him?” 34-year-old Mary Kiamba recalls the ordeal that left her feeling alone and dejected.
This year’s 16 days of activism focused on shifting the blame from survivors to perpetrators under the theme #HearMeToo.
I later on went to the hospital where I was found to have contracted HIV which made things even worse, he got physical with me and even held a knife at me wanting to kill me; my daughter saved me but she also bears the scars of this encounter as the knife cut through her palm. He later kicked us out of our matrimonial home and has since moved on.
it is estimated that at least 1 out of every 3 women have experienced physical violence in their lifetime with spousal violence being the majority. Reporting has remained low as a result of cultural barriers and fear of stigmatization.
Kenya has robust policies, laws and institutional frameworks that seek to prevent and respond to GBV, and is also a signatory to international and regional human rights frameworks that aim to prevent and respond to GBV. Despite these, the country paints a grim picture with relentless and horrendous reports of GBV in both the mainstream and social media.
The first few months were unbearable as I had to deal with my new status and at the same time be a mother to my children and support them with no stable income. I was bitter and kept to myself most of the time until a friend of mine who had also undergone rape introduced me to a support group where we would come together and share as part of the healing process and also get educated on the referral pathways.
The survivors’ network of Kenya is one of these platforms supported by UN Women where survivors come together to provide a supportive mechanism to fellow survivors and walk with them through in the journey towards recovery and justice.
Creating and sustaining a supportive environment that addresses the complex needs of survivors and their families, and adequately provide coping mechanisms is therefore imperative. Designing and implementing preventive strategies at multiple levels, including rehabilitation and reintegration of perpetrators, is equally critical in averting future violence.
The United Nation and the government of Kenya through the framework of the Joint programme on preventing and response to Gender Based Violence, seeks to address and respond to gender-based violence through the areas of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Programming and Partnership.
Sexual Offences Act (2006) amended in 2011, The National Policy on the Prevention and Response to GBV (2014), Protection Against Domestic Violence Act (No.2 of 2015),