UN Women and Africa UNiTE Kenya Chapter on Monday 25 April 2016 launched a documentary titled “Violence Thrives in our Silence” at Reuben Center, Mukuru slums in Nairobi. The documentary seeks to impart knowledge on the various forms of violence and calls for victims and those who witness violence to speak out and take action.
Zebib Kavuma UN Women Kenya Country Director in her remarks noted that sexual and gender based violence (GBV) happens all over the world and that one in every three women in the world are victims of sexual gender based violence. “GBV is a societal, behavioral and attitude problem. We must speak out and take action” she emphasized. She noted that national statistics point to a rising trend in the occurrence of GBV in Kenya. The prevalence of physical violence among ever married women aged between 15 -49 years is 38.4 percent in 2014 (KDHS, 2014).
The chief guest at the event, Hon Sakaja Johnson who is the chairperson of the Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association talked about his commitment to women empowerment. He introduced the two thirds gender bill in parliament. He promised to have a meeting with the men and security personnel to speak about gender based violence in Mukuru and offered to contact and inform the Governor of Nairobi County on the need for a trauma center in Mukuru.
L – R: Hon Sakaja Johnson, chairperson of the Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association Alongside the UN Women Country Director Zebib Kavuma (Photo By Njeri Muathe/ UN Women Kenya)
Katherine Muoki Director of Gender, state Department of Gender at the Ministry of Public Service, youth and Gender noted that the documentary was created to raise awareness on GBV and asked all those present to learn a lesson from it and share it as widely as possible.
After the launch of the documentary, community members had a discussion on the various forms of gender violence that happen in Kwa Reuben among them being underage girls being married off, sodomy and rape.
Reporting of cases of sexual and gender based violence was also mentioned as a steep challenge because when perpetrators are arrested and released on bond, they threaten the victims. The law in its current form was seen as a challenge. Alice Wanini a Women’s leader and a gender defender noted that there is urgent need for a trauma center in Mukuru kwa Reuben.
Winfred Maingi a teacher at Reuben Baptist Primary School noted that children are exposed to sexual activity at home because families live in single rooms and urged parents to be cautious. She also expressed her disappointment at mothers some of whom are known to her, who are encouraging their daughters to get involved in sex for money.
Rachel Shiramba a child protection officer called for concerted efforts to fight sexual and gender based violence.
It is important that victims and those who witness sexual and gender based violence speak out. Quick action by duty bearers so that perpetrators face the law will go a long way in addressing the vice. Coordinated, harmonized and strategic partnerships are necessary to respond to gender based violence.
Africa UNiTE, a network of civil Society Actors in Kenya has done a tremendous job in enhancing awareness on GBV especially around prevention and engagement of men to end the Violence. This simple community advocacy and easy to use tool was launched as part of the celebrations to mark the “April Orange day”-celebrated every 25th of the Month.