PBI-Kenya supports International Women’s Day conference in Nairobi on ending sexual and gender-based violence
The Peace Brigades International-Kenya Project helped develop the Toolkit for WHRDs in Nairobi’s Urban Settlements in 2016.
The Toolkit Organizers network grew out of that. The network is comprised of fifteen women human rights defenders (WHRDs) from the urban settlements of Kibera, Langata, Kawangaware, Mukuru and Mathare.
On International Women’s Day, they held a conference to recognize the resilience of women and women human rights defenders.
As noted on the banner placed at the front of the conference, the theme was: END sexual & gender based Violence NOW.
A survey in Kenya in 2014 found that four in every ten women aged 15-49 were victims of violence before their 18th birthday. More recently, it was reported that five in every ten women in the same age group have suffered some form of violence.
Toolkit organizer Kate Wangui has noted the challenges of countering violence: “The police may intimidate you, or the victim’s family is paid off by the perpetrator. Other times, we are successful: we had a case where we organized a demonstration from Kibera to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital to force the doctor and police to testify in a rape case.”
And toolkit organizer Editar Ochieng has commented: “Violence against women is very common in Kibera and many people have normalized it. So many women experience violence and they do not talk about it because they think it is normal, especially women experiencing violence in their relationships.”
She adds: “For violence to reduce you must stand up strongly.”
PBI-Kenya works with Nairobi-based networks to address police violence, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and access to drinking water.
Steve Kinuthia of the Mathare Social Justice Centre has stated: [PBI was] there in 2015 when we started and they have been part of the journey. [They gave] us protective accompaniment when we are going to police stations.”