International day of the Girl Child 2014 in Mt. Elgon, Kenya
Community prepares to sign social contract
Students, teachers and representatives of Parents Teacher Associations and Board of Governors of four schools in Mt. Elgon took part in a session to draft social contracts that will be signed by members of the community during this year’s International Day of the Girl Child on October 11. Communities around Chepkurukuru Primary School and four secondary schools will sign the contracts will state what each sector of the community should do to end sexual and gender based violence and prevent teenage pregnancies in the region.
The theme of this year’s event is “Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.”
Long-term solutions needed to address violence
H.E. Hillary Chongwony, the deputy governor, Bungoma County, has noted that violence in general is still prevalent in the Mt. Elgon region. He said the sources of the violence in its totality needs to be addressed, especially as these cases erupt every five to 10 years
“It is great that we have partners like ACORD who play a key role in issues surrounding peace, particularly around the signing of the Mabanga Accord,” he said.
Chongwony expressed satisfaction at the Men 2 Men programme that ACORD has implemented, saying that the mindset of men needs to change to handle issues of sexual gender based violence.
“It is great that this programme also has a component of address boys currently in schools,” he said. “We need to start targeting people early on so that we have a long-term solution.”
Speaking during a courtesy called made by ACORD staff, the deputy governor said programmes run by organisations should be sustainable so that in the event of donor funding ending, women are still able to continue the work and address the problems they face in the community.
“These programmes should be driven and owned by the community,” he said.
Further more, the deputy governor observed that the definition of girls’ and women’s empowerment needs to change so that it is something that actually helps them, rather than holding a workshop on the issue and disappearing.
ACORD Kenya Country Director, Jacob Wasai Nanjakululu, noted that ACORD in conjunction with other organisations including the British Council would soon begin the implementation of a “Sports for Youth” programme that would use sports as a tool to educate the youth on various issues in the community.
Boys’ mindset needs to change
Bungoma County Commissioner M. A. Maalim has said that as discussions are held concerning the girl child, it has become apparent that the boy child is also becoming an endangered species.
“We need to focus on the boys too, especially on issues around sexual and gender-based violence,” he said.
Maalim noted that in Bungoma County, three quarters of cases reported to the police involved rape and defilement. He noted that corruption prevented majority of cases reaching the police as chiefs were holding kangaroo courts and solving rape cases quickly and quietly in the community for money.
Maalim observed that despite an amnesty given by the government for people to surrender illegal firearms, these were still in possession of members of the community in Mt. Elgon.
ACORD Kenya Country Director, Jacob Wasai Nanjakululu, noted that ACORD was hoping that interventions by other organisations would begin and continue focusing on the girl child. He noted that in particular, psychosocial issues were now noticeable especially after the post-election violence of 2007/8.
The commissioner was speaking during a courtesy call paid to him the ACORD staff ahead of the International Day of the Girl Child.
Institutions failing survivors of sexual violence
Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence are often left languishing after the resolution of the cases. According to Alice Wanyonyi, the district children’s officer, Bungoma Country, bureaucracy and lack of funds have resulted in psychosocial issues affecting the victims.
“There is a conflict between the judicial bodies and other organs of government as to who should cater for the survivors,” she said.
She said doctors were charging as much as Kshs 15,000 (about US $175) before they could tend to patients who have undergone rape and defilement, even if the patient is eight years old. The police also made it difficult for people report cases of sexual violence as the P3 form that has to be filled to file an incident report to the police is only available online and most people have a difficult time accessing the internet.
Speaking during a courtesy call made by ACORD staff, Wanyonyi further noted that during the post-election violence of 2007/8, parents abandoned a large number of children as people fled the violence.
“A large number of street children in Bungoma town have come from Mt. Elgon as they were abandoned by their parents,” she said.