Efforts to Eliminate Sexual Violence In Kenya
Embedded within a culture of rich ancestral traditions, lies a haunting legacy that has left devastating physical and sociological effects on Kenyan girls for hundreds of years. Female genital mutilation is a custom performed when a child takes her transformation into womanhood. This ritualistic practice, symbolizing purity and abstinence, has severe consequences to thousands of young girls, leaving their bodies in life-threatening damage and pain.
At the UN forum entitled, “Efforts to Eliminate Sexual Violence In Kenya,” a young woman shared her testimony coming from a society where this was not only considered acceptable, but strictly enforced. While recognizing the importance of her cultural identity, she distinctly opposed the harmful violations taking place against the girls in her village, calling for justice and awareness to the prevalence of this issue.
A great emphasis on schools was placed into discussion as an impactful mechanism of change, where girls could be encouraged to share their feelings and engage with others on matters concerning these sensitive topics. Creating broader dialogue was also proposed to bring understanding and awareness on behalf of elders in the village to see this practice as harmful to the health of the young girls in the community.
Added to this point was the importance of dialogue in other abuses, such as the subject of rape, which has nega- tively bound women to violent sexual abuse in the country for decades. Recently, there has been a five percent increase of rape in Kenya, creating a predominance of disease and unwanted pregnancy. Whether performed as a tactic of war, or for purposes of human degradation, sexual violence has left permanent scars on every victim, compromising the futures of thousands of young women.
Confronting these problems has taken meaningful and comprehensive effort from communal and government amenities. One approach has been to establish an array of new programs designed to promote a safe refuge for victims of sexual abuse. These exist in forms of temporary housing, women’s medical facilities, treatment options, and psycho-sociological counseling.
Additionally, initiatives have been drafted to link the gap between legal justice and social service accountability. This includes upholding strict legal enforcement through civil services, generating funds toward investigative prac- tices, and promoting greater respect to raise the standards of women in Kenyan society.
The struggle for Kenyan women living in fear of sexual violence is a very real and alarming truth. However, the measures that Kenya is currently putting in place are positive developments for ensuring a secure environment for these women. With a conjunction of legal framework, transparency, and participation between government and communal institutions, this shared vision can one day be fulfilled.
Written By: Stephanie Nelson