“An issue that has been prevalent for too long” – Violence against women and girls in Samburu County, North-west Kenya
by Espila Lucy, the Gender Focal Person for CAFOD’s partner Caritas Maralal. She works on all their projects to make sure that gender issues are taken into account from the beginning. She also works closely with communities to educate and train men and women to respond to and prevent gender based violence.
Gender-based violence can affect women, men, boys and girls. This vice has continued to be a serious global health, human rights and development issue. It transcends the bounds of geography, race, culture, class and religion, touching virtually every community in every part of the globe. It is condoned by outdated customs and reinforced by institutions which are thriving because there is no fear of punishment.
In Samburu County it is an issue that has been prevalent for too long. The district hospital admits cases of gender-based violence on a weekly basis. Out of 24 assault cases and one case of manslaughter this year, only two made it to court.
This remote region of Kenya is cut-off from mainstream development and lacking basic infrastructure and safe water supplies. Droughts have become worse in recent years due to climate change. Communities struggle to make a living and there is conflict over access to pasture and water for livestock, and cattle raids are common. All these tensions are making violence more prevalent.
Caritas Maralal is the development office of the Catholic Diocese of Maralal. Our workshops are giving women and girls the opportunity to share their stories and empower them to be able to speak up. When girls are educated, the dynamics change. When they understand the negative consequences of traditional practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation, they won’t condone them once they start their own families.
Men have control over their wives in every sense of the word. “I am sure that one of us shall be beaten up tonight for attending this particular seminar” said Ntitoo, one of the women in the group.
It is for this reason that we must involve men though creating an environment that allows them to see the benefits that the project is bringing to the community, and as the Church’s development office we do have an edge. Men in these communities are heads of the household. They lead and the women follow. Changing their mindsets is an uphill task but it does not deter us. Things have to change – for the good of everyone.
Read more at http://blog.cafod.org.uk/2013/11/29/an-issue-that-has-been-prevalent-for-too-long-violence-against-women-and-girls-in-samburu-county-north-west-kenya/