By Alvin Mwangi
Women and Girls continue to face life-threatening situations in their daily social, educational, economical and personal lives from acts of violence, when in most of the time the perpetrator is known to them. According to Amnesty Kenya, 108 Kenyan women were killed in 2019, while 40% of women in Kenya experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
According to The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, 14 percent of women and 6 % of men aged 15 – 49 reported having experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. The Government of Kenya has enacted several laws and has policies and regulations to prevent and control forms of violence against women and children, including the Bill of Rights within The Constitution of Kenya (2010), The Sexual Offences Act (2006) among others. The Constitution of Kenya, in article 27, part 1 mentions that Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenya has witnessed an increase in cases around Gender Based Violence for both men, children and women, with some of the cases lives being lost. We have an opportunity to make a difference for the better. Everyone of us has a role to play. According to the Ministry of Health, between Mid March and June 2020, 5,000 rape cases were reported. 7% increase for the same period in 2019. 70% of victims were girls 18 years and below. 5% were boys and men. 95% of the perpetrators were men.
Rape Culture is a social environment that allows sexual violence to be normalized and justified, fueled by the persistent gender inequalities and attitudes about gender and sexuality. Women don’t get raped because they were drinking or took drugs. Women do not get raped because they were not careful enough or walking at night with their dresses and skirts. Women get raped because someone raped them.
Questions that would make you a rape apologist; Where is the proof, why didn’t you call the police then, that doesn’t count as assault, he is not normally like that, move on that was long ago, why were you drinking too much, well you should not have gone to that party, you are over reacting…among many others. Just Stop Victim Blaming Women and girls who experience Sexual and Gender based violence a lot. These perpetrators should be Jailed to set precedent to anyone who might want to sexually violate anyone.
Women should not live in a survival mode everyday in fear that someone will kill them, attack them, harass them, touch them. This is not a feminist agenda, these cases are happening and they need to stop. Women are dying from hands of men. It is absolutely disgusting to reduce survivors of Sexual and Gender based violence to laughter on national TV and Radio platforms.
In recent and past times, we have witnessed how some sections of Media has played a key role in the surge of cases around Sexual and Gender Based Violence. We have heard how some radio presenters use their platforms to blame victims of violence, shame them and ask questions like “Where was she going at night, why was she was drunk, don’t you think she wanted it, why was she wearing a miniskirt, who told her to go there? all these questions blaming girls and women for living their lives. Women should live free from violence of any nature and form.
Why are we blaming women? Aren’t we supposed to ensure that systems are able to protect everyone? Ensure that cultural and religious beliefs and views do not discriminate anyone? Ensure that men who from data have been seen as the biggest perpetrators in most cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence. This Norton of telling women to be safe needs to end, safe from what? Safe from who? Families and community systems have encouraged girls and women to live in fear, This should and must stop! With statements like “Oooooh you know you are a girl, you are not supposed to go out at night, you are not supposed to wear something short, don’t be too beautiful or have make up” These are unfortunate statements that the communities we are from continue to speak of! The discussions need to change to “Arrest Perpetrators, Develop county laws and guidelines that are able to have systems and structures that protect everyone, Have safe houses for survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence” We should not continue to instill fear or be Rape apologists!
What post traumatic experiences do these girls and women go through after these acts of violence, statements from their own families and communities? What are some of the societal aspects of stigma and discrimination that these survivors will go through?
Media houses need to develop and implement policies around all Sexual and Gender Based Violence issues against anyone. This will ensure that reporting remains objective and does not violate anyone’s access and enjoyment of human rights
No Corporate entity should be associated with media stations that perpetuate femicide or any form of Sexual Violence, otherwise the general public continues to see this as glorifying these statements. Men should also continue to call out Male Rape apologists and desist from engaging with them!
Say no to; Victim blaming! Shaming Women! Femicide! Sexual and Gender Based Violence! Rape! Defilement! Sexual Assault! Cat Calling Women! Hate! Discriminatory and Misogynistic comments targeting survivors of Sexual and Gender based violence! Normalizing Violence! Repeat Offenders!
Alvin Mwangi Irungu
Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Youth Advocate