PBI-Kenya helps organize town hall forums on addressing SGBV against teenage girls in Nairobi’s urban settlements

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On April 6, PBI-Kenya posted: “In March, the WHRD [Women Human Rights Defenders] Toolkit Organizers held town hall forums with 125 teenage girls across the settlements to discuss the process of reporting SGBV [Sexual and Gender Based Violence] cases. This was in response to the increase in SGBV incidents.”

They add: “During the forums, the girls shared their experiences in reporting these cases and suggestions were shared.”

An estimated 17-25% of girls in Kenya experience sexual violence at least once before the age of 18. The situation has worsened with the pandemic. According to the Kenyan Ministry of Health, between mid-March and June 2020, over 5,000 rape cases were reported. 70% of victims were girls aged 18 and below.

In November 2020, the Kenyan newspaper Nation reported: “For long, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the country have cried foul over the low rate or non-conviction of perpetrators. The Judiciary and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) have been on the spotlight for delayed cases and shoddy investigations.”

That article notes the conviction rate has increased to 78.5 per cent in 2019/2020, up from a 69 per cent conviction rate in 2018/2019.

And yet toolkit organizer Kate Wangui has noted some of the challenges: “The police may intimidate you, or the victim’s family is paid off by the perpetrator.”

She also notes: “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.”

PBI-Kenya 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 (including Kate and Editar) from the urban settlements of Kibera, Langata, Kawangaware, Mukuru and Mathare.

WHRD toolkit organizers Kate Wangui and Editar Ochieng.

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