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Dont forget fellow Kenyans living in IDP camp

Would you use this loo? No? What if you had no choice? Welcome to a Kenyan IDP camp.

Growing up in an IDP camp

As a Kenyan I’m disgusted with how we have  handled the post election crisis and in particular the victims who still live in IDP camps around the country. Two years on, these peole are still living in hell. As a result, we are now raising a generation of children – victims of the post election violence in campas that are beginning to look like slums.  The Kenyan Government does not recognize most  IDP camps near Nakuru  – and have sent the donors away.

Call this a home?

Each member of the camp has a small footprint on which they have a tent donated by UNHCR and intended to be used for 6 months. Back then, remember the post election violence? It was assumed that people would not need to be in IDP camps for more than that. Well, it’s more than 2 years on and they are still in the camps – more than 6,000 people live in this camp. The tents are in tatters.

Although the Chinese government donated metal sheets for roofing, the members of the IDP camp say that the DC in Nakuru has held onto them and will not release them because he wants these IDP’s out of there.

Overflowing toilets have been locked

Although this is a horrible place to live, this camp is surpprisingly well organized, structured and managed by an elected committee. Toilets were put in 2 years ago by WHO but are now full. Most of them are locked. Where to people go? Use your imagination.

Despite the horrendous smell, kids play near the toilets

Drying maize

We spent a couple of hours in the IDP camp meeting and talking to people living there. These are not lazy, uneducated, helpless people. These are people who ran businesses, had homes, farms and jobs. They lost everything.

We asked what their priorities are. The answer was simple, medicine, toilets and food.

Trauma lingers in the faces of people who endure unimaginable suffering

Many of the women were raped, their husbands and family members killed, their children raped, their homes burned, and property looted. They lost their land, and their livestock. They cannot imagine going back to live with the beasts who did this to them. There is no counselling, no support, and no official government efforts to deal with the consequences like HIV.

Clinic officer

Yet these people do live in hope. They have no choice really. Linet is a university student. She also runs the little clinic on the IDP camp serving over hundreds of patients.  Some of them die from manageable diseases. But despite the setbacks, she still has reason to smile. She told me that this IDP camp is now home.

Not lazy, this guy has built a shed for producing mushrooms. A micro enterpriset hhat could be successful if he gets funds to start off the first mushrooms.

Studying in an IDP camp

The place is very congested, but people make do. There are no jobs for these people but that does not stop this student from continuing with his studies.

In the IDP camp we came across a few foreign volunteers who were helping with schools and sports. As Kenyans we need to support these IDP’s too.

You can help

Peter and I asked guests at our wedding to donate funds or materials to this IDP camp. We have raised enough to purchase medicines for the clinic and to build one line of new toilets. We also gave a little something to the kids.We thank all our generous friends who supported this appeal.

If you would like to help  here are some things that these guys need

1. More medical supplies

2. More toilets (a line of 6 toilets costs about Kh 20,000)

3. Help with medical fees – several members of the IDP camps are in hospital and cannot be released until fees are paid up

4. Support for microfinance and studies.

5. Jobs

Leave a comment if you’d like to join us in helping

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May 28, 2010 Posted by | Kenya, politics, rape, Women | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An emotional puzzle

Here’s a puzzle that’s been bothering me. Read, chew on it, leave me a comment, forward widely.

After a shipwreck Carol and her mother end up washed up on an island.

Across the shark infested waters are her boyfriend James, and his friend Jack.

Henry, another victim of the shipwreck, remains at sea on a life boat.

Carol asks Henry to take her to the other island that her boyfriend is on.

He says he’ll do it, but only on condition that she sleeps with him.

She asks her mother what she should do. Her mum says, do what you like.

She sleeps with Henry and afterwards he takes her across the island with James.

James is delighted to see her and after a bit of nooky, asks how she got to cross, Henry is known to be an A-hole.

She  tells him what she had to do and he explodes and starts beating up on her.

Jack hears Carol screaming from the other side of the island and comes running over to rescue her from the brutal James. Carol falls in love with him and they end up  together.

Nice story?

So who is the best person in the story and who is the worst and why? Leave me a comment

January 19, 2010 Posted by | gender violence, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | , | 3 Comments

How to report crime in Kenya or navigating Police procedures

FIRST I HAVE TO GRIPE- WHY ISN’T THERE AN ONLINE SUPPORT SERVICE FOR VICTIMS  OF DOMESTIC ABUSE?

I don’t know how Kenya can say it is serious about dealing with the vice when its the no. 1 crime affecting over 80% of women, yet it’s virtually impossible to find out where to get help, or how to report an incident of domestic abuse.

Here’s what I know about what to do- let me know what you think as I’d love to  produce a poster and plaster a checklist on every single police station in Kenya

1. CALL THE POLICE 999 (landline) 112 (Cell)

You can try to call the police Kenya Police emergency no is 999 (landline) or 112 (mobile phone).

PUT THESE NUMBERS IN YOUR CELL NOW

You can also try your local station – Kenya Police Stations Hotlines are listed here

2. REPORT AT NEAREST POLICE STATION OR SUB STATION/COMMUNITY STATION

When you get there tell them you want to report a crime.

I’ve no idea if the Gender Desk or Childrens Desks actually work but generally you go to the one guy who has the OB or Observation Book. He gives your case a number, asks you a few questions and you should keep a receipt of that report.

The officer taking your report will not volunteer information – you have to ask. These guys are qualified but if you are confused ask to see the OCS (Officer in Charge of Station – who generally is quite professional)

Well if you’ve been injured you need a P3 form from the Police station – you can download P3 Forms and Abstract Forms from the Police website here in advance

LOSS OF PROPERTY

Note The Abstract form is issued by the Police whenever a person reports loss of property.

It is filled giving details of the lost property. The Officer Commanding Police Station(OCS), must sign and rubber-stamp the filled form and an official receipt issued.

NB. Once this form is filled,it must be taken to the nearest Police Station for necessary assistance.

IN THE CASE OF PERSONAL INJURY

You must get the P3 Form the Medical Examination Report

The Kenya Police Medical Examination form, popularly known as P3, is provided free of charge at our police stations. It is used to request for medical examination by a Medical Officer of Health, in order to determine the nature and extent of bodily injury sustained by a complainant(s) in assault cases.

Part I of the form must be filled by the Police Officer requesting medical examination.

Part II must befilled by a Medical Officer or Practitioner carrying out the examination giving medical details.

Section B of this form should be completed in all cases of assault, including sexual while section C is completed in cases alleged sexual offeces ony.

This form is a government document and must be returned to the police for use in adducing evidence in court.

Once the P3 form is filled in at the police station, the complainant is escorted by a police officer to a medical officer or practitioner for examination.

The form becomes an exhibit once produced in court.

MAKE A STATEMENT

Accompanying your initial Abstract should be a full statement from you of what happened. This can be done later the same day or next day AT THE POLICE STATION

Any abuse, injury or damage to property is a criminal case. It is different from a civil case (but you can also pursue a civil case in parallel – I’m not  a lawyer but would appreciate guidance on this).

If you need someone to be arrested you must tell the police immediately. Kenyan law classifies any assault, injury or damage to property as violation of the penal code.

The police will arrest the offender and charge them, hold them til processed (finger prints etc), set a bail if it’s a bailable offense, is and give them a date in court usually within 2 weeks. From what I’ve been told, the Government prosecutor will take charge in criminal cases. Ie. the Victim is represented by Govt Prosecutor. The person charged gets to plead, after which there’s a mention then a hearing.

Having someone charged for domestic abuse is a process and no wonder most women drop or don’t bother to even report domestic abuse cases.

(BTW I think we have a domestic abuse law in Kenya – it’s either assault or some other crime.)

And intoxication shall not constitute a defence to any criminal charge. Women or men who charge their spouses with domestic violence are actually charging them with Assault and there’s a 5 year jail sentence for that.

Most men know that women will not go so far as reporting the case – but the truth is that once it’s reported you can drop it if you decide. If you don’t you have nothing but the possibility of further assault.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just walk away?

NO!!!

Forgetting about what it does to us, me, you or any victim, to our bodies,  just think for a moment about what it does to our minds, our spirit and how it messes up our children, sisters, parents, friends for life to see us take the beatings.

Why you should report spouse abuse

  • Having the incident on record in case it happens again in future
  • You can use the case to leverage a mediated approach in exchange for dropping criminal charges which carry hefty penalties.
  • Reduced probability of further abuses – Men don’t like having a record
  • Doing what’s right for you and your kids/dependents family friends etc.

Disadvantages of reporting a spouse abuse case

  • Dealing with the Police can be time consuming – these guys are experts in the runaround (most women drop cases which might explain why the police don’t take them seriously in the first place)
  • Responsibility if the abuser goes to jail (most women are too kind to mean men)
  • Ending a relationship most people end relationships once it’s gotten so bad that police are involved. Some think it’s better to deal with problems before they become violent. You can get help and counseling (see below)
  • Your case can become publicsome people and especially relatives find this embarrassing and shameful

The Center for Gender Violence at Nairobi Womens Hospital in Hurlingham

Kenyatta Hospital

Nairobi Place – for counseling and treatment of alcoholism and other substance abuse addictions

For men who are abused or who can’t get access to traditional help the SAFE website may provide options

For women, children and men – we need a site like Narika in Asia which is a volunteer run a help line that one can can call to find out what to do, get counseling, access information like where’s the closest shelter, share stories and generally get help.

You can download most Kenyan laws here

If you have any relevant resources to share leave a comment or tweet me @paulakahumbu


November 26, 2009 Posted by | Crime, gender violence, Injustice, Kenya, rape, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

White Ribbon Day Today – End Violence Against Women

Yesterday I made commitments to 7  actions that I think will help raise awareness about Violence Against Women.

My first commitment  was to reach 100 people through my networks. Well at least 70 people read my blog yesterday alone and several people commented on my tweets and Facebook and took my Gender Violence poll so I’m happy with progress on that target.

I also committed to getting 5 friends to write about Gender Violence.

Yesterday alone two people responded and I’d like to share the highlights of these blogs

*****

Linda Raftree of Plan International, writes a blog called Wait …Wait which is all about “people I meet through that work and things I wonder about related to both”. She aimst o incorporate social media and new technology into youth development programs in Africa  so that youth have more of a voice and so that new media/new technology.  Her goal  is to improve the conditions in the communities.

Gender Violence Africa

“In the community over the past 3 weeks, I saw and heard about the challenges girls face to achieve an education, avoid unwanted advances, including from teachers, and avoid early pregnancies.  Most of the time there is no space for these issues to be discussed openly among both boys and girls, and with adults.  Plan’s two campaigns, Learn without Fear and Because I am a Girl, seem extremely relevant to the context”.

Gender violence in Mozambique

I love this image of girl power in Mozambique. Makes me smile. Follow Linda’s amazing stories on twitter @meowtree

******

17 year old boy takes action on Violence Against Women

The second blog on gender violence was written than none other than my 17 year old son who really surprises me from time to time.

Writing as rovingrastaman Joshuas posts can be totally unpredictable. He has recently been debating what gifts to buy his little sister for her birthday and seems to spends an unusually long amount of time thinking about it (for a boy) and seems to be willing to spend an extortionate amount of money on her.

Solve the problem Violence against Women by raising boys to be good men

I am proud that at 17 Josh is thinking about the issues, and writing about them – in his blog he says

“It is unacceptable that people are being treated like this and we need to protest and work towards change. Violence against anyone is a crime”. Follow Josh on Twitter @keggaz

I conclude that key to stopping violence against women is to raise good men – it’s a task us women should take upon ourselves.


*****

Recognizing Good Men

Finally I also made a commitment to recognize good men so today I’ll be sending shout outs on Twitter  to the following amazing men to recognize for their views and influence. You are all men who others should look up to.

@keggaz

@coldtusker

@kahenya (I know you pretend to be a macho heartless womanizer – but deep down ur a total softie)

@eastlandah

@inteligensia

@toneendungu

@bonifacemwangi

@bankelele

@mkaigwa

@alykhansatchu

@damiancook

@kenyaimagine

@ialen

@tininai

@ngeny

@swmaina

@estoni

@jimmassusa

@andai

@iamkenei

My list is incomplete without my own best friend @petergreste who at times seems too perfect that he may in fact be an alien.  He detests the thought that I might think him sickly sweet but I can assure you that he’s not, I don’t have a sweet tooth. His work in war torn Eastern Congo filming victims of sexual violence for BBC revealed  a rare courage – to witness, to feel and empathize, and to still be professional about bringing this important story to the world. If  men understood the impact of lasting damage of violence against women – on themselves, on brain wastage, on the economy and on their own happiness, we would be closer to ending violence against women.

To get a white ribbon on your Twitter avatar just go here

Do you have a White Ribbon story about Gender Violence to tell? Send it to me and I’ll post it right here.

November 25, 2009 Posted by | gender violence, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | , , , , , | 2 Comments

My committments to ending violence agains women

When I was in an abusive relationship I felt oddly alone and unable to tell anyone about it. I was saved by a friend who snapped me to my senses and ugly, humiliating, shameful, and embarasing as it was, I  have never looked back. And so, it was the most natural thing in the world to share that strength with Anne when I found out she was also a victim of domestic violence, I could see she needed it. She is grateful now, but she wont  be able to appreciate it for years to come if at all. She keeps thanking me – as if I did something generous. I did not, I did what had to be done, it is right for women to help each other. There is no generosity in it, we need each other and should be ready to accept help from each other. But it can be hard sometimes.

After I discovered that tomorrow is White Ribbon Day for action on Violence Against Women, and after discovering just how prevalent violence against women is I decided to make some public personal commitments.

  1. Tell 100 friends (or more) about White Ribbon day –  on 25th November. Share through email, facebook, twitter
  2. Research facts and write at least 5 blog posts about it the issue – give gender violence a face
  3. Share resources on my blog and get at least 5 friends to write blogs about their personal stories
  4. Promote my friends stories on gender violence on my blog, facebook and twitter
  5. Help at least one friend/victim of gender violence – see blog post about Anne and Charlie
  6. Recognize amazing men and ask them to be role models to other men
  7. Support a local women’s rescue center

Just think if I can just save one person it will have been worth it

Help me magnify this impact, join me, tell your story on your blog, share mine on twitter or your blog,  advise me which womens rescue center to support. …………….

Before I sign off I want to recognize and thank Linda @meowtree who narrates her amazing work through blog and photos on educating youth in Mozambique. In her latest post on gender issues Linda chillingly narrates  ” I even heard one teenage girl in one of the nearby communities say “if it’s just one man, it’s not really a rape…. it has to be 3 or 4.”

Guys, we can stop this cycle of violence.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | gender violence, Kenya, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Breaking the cycle of Violence against Women

After writing about Charlie and Anne and responding to a number of comments on Twitter, Facebook and  here I discovered that this story is not that uncommon.

This video states that 90% of Kenyan women are abused from childhood – and 60 % are in abusive marriages/relationships.

Seeing the burned victim of domestic abuse will stay tattooed in my brain forever.

United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) launched the global advocacy initiative Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women, which will stimulate, count and showcase actions on ending violence against women. The innovative platform will spotlight global efforts and demonstrate the groundswell of support and actions on the issue.

I’ve taken on action to end violence againsg women – by simply being there for my friend Anne to deal with her abusive partner and of course writing this blog.  I’ve recorded my action on UNiFem’s website here .

Speak out on violence against women – call into your favourite radio show, write a blog, send your friends, emails

Share resources

Spend an hour with your son, nephew, brother, father, grandfather, friend and talk about domestic violence

Support a victim of domestic violence (your grandmother, mother, sister, lover, friend, aunt, niece)

Talk to the abuser – help him realise it’s just not acceptable

If you have ever been an abuser – call your victim and apologise from the depths of your heart and promise to never ever ever do it again. Get help if you haven’t already.

Share the commitment you have made on UNiFEM website – it’ll only take a few moments.

I can’t find a single web based resource that women in Kenya can turn to to tell them what their rights are, and what actions to take in the event of abuse. Any help would be much appreciated. Once we have it we need to share it through mobile phone. Maybe we can save some of these women.

The Coalition on Violence Against Women apparently provide free legal service for victims

Love your woman tomorrow it’s White Ribbon day!

– All you men out there, show your commitment to end violence against women – wear a white ribbon today and spoil your woman rotten, with a massage, breakfast in bed, a bubble bath and cook her a loving meal.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Crime, gender violence, Injustice, Kenya, rape, Relationships, spouse abuse, Women | Leave a comment