Culmination of ACORD Kenya's Sixteen Days of Activism in Mt. Elgon
As part of the 16 Days of Activism for the elimination of violence against women and girls, ACORD and partner organization Peace Eights Programme, Kitale held a public rally in Mt. Elgon, Bungoma County, to commemorate World Human Rights Day.
Speaking at the event, Catherine, who endured female genital mutilation (FGM) within her marriage, recounted how difficult it was for her to give birth following the procedure.
“I had given birth to five children without any problem. Unknown to me, my husband plotted to have the procedure done to me. I have since given birth to five other children in childbirths that have been extremely painful. I look at my husband and wonder whether it was worth it.”
The chief guest, Mr. Mutisya Muli, the Deputy County Commissioner, Mt. Elgon, asked residents of the county to fight against male and female domination and promote gender equality.
He said there were currently 144 reported cases of girls under the age of 18 who were pregnant, but said many cases go unreported.
“Parents are taking advantage and receiving money from the boy or man’s family responsible for raping or impregnating their daughter and are not reporting these cases,” he said.
On the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM), Muli asked residents to come forward with information of cases of FGM, which would be followed up by law enforcement officers. He said the same should be done for cases of domestic violence.
“Men who beat their wives are inferior and feel insecure,” he said.
Mr. Festus Mukoya, coordinator, FPAK, said there had been a marked reduction in the number of cases around sexual and gender-based violence. He said there had an increase in distribution of assets for women within families and women were more involved in economic decisions within their families.
“However, I need to reiterate that children must attend school and become educated so as to break the cycle of poverty, because poverty also leads to violence,” he said.
Members of the public were invited to participate to a dialogue and debate around this year’s theme of the 16 Days of Activism, “From peace in the home to peace in the world: Let’s challenge militarism and end violence against women” by Ms. Julian Muturia, ACORD programme officer.
She explained that the Bill of Rights under article 27 provided that every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law. She emphasized further the constitution provides that women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres. Further, she said that to ensure there is equality, men, women and children and that all sectors of the community had to join hands to eliminate sexual violence.
“Women have their role to play in peace building and in politics,” she said. “They suffer the greatest brunt of the aftermath conflict but also bring the natural virtues of compassion and forgiveness that are crucial towards reconciliation.”
Land rights and inheritance, she said, were protected under the Kenya Constitution under chapter five and women had to be aware of their rights which need to be respected by all members of the society.
The rally, attended by over 200 people, marked the end of the 16 Days of Activism marked worldwide to sensitise communities on issues surrounding women’s rights and call on them to take action in ensuring these rights are observed at all levels of society.
Working towards reparations for SGBV survivors is one of ACORD’s key priories under its gender justice and women’s rights programme. There is a need for Kenya and by extension Africa to have clear legislative and policy framework providing satisfactory reparative measures for SGBV survivors. This intervention has been informed by the fact that Africa is greatly affected by war/conflict and one of the weapons used is sexual violence. In Kenya, ACORD is closely working with other likeminded organizations and government departments towards strengthening this mechanisms and ensuring their implementation.