The Challenge of Reporting Gender Based Violence

yvoneakoth
Posted March 19, 2016 from Kenya

Faith’s life has never been the same since 2013. She has questioned herself frequently on why she made the decision she made which affected her life tremendously. Lack of a job accompanied with basic education is not enough for her as a young woman living in Nairobi’s informal settlement of Kibera to live a normal life. Taking a stand to report an incidence of sexual abuse which took place her organization not only earned her enemies but caused her to lose the only source of income she has had for the last 5 years. It was 2 pm on Saturday when Faith reported to work to monitor an activity outreach activity for girls and young women which was taking place in organizations open conference centre. To her shock, she found one of the male field coordinators in a comprising position as if interrupting something with a girl who is a beneficiary of the organization’s projects. Three days later, two young women reported being forced to give sexual favours in order to be taken in as beneficiaries of the organizations projects. Women and girls living in informal settlements are prone to incidences of gender based violence because of their vulnerability seen in their low socio-economic status. In most informal settlements, young women sell themselves for less than a dollar hence why they can be easily exploited. As is a beneficiary of many capacity building opportunities offered by women led non-governmental organizations operating in Nairobi, Faith was taught to recognise, speak out and report incidences of gender based violence experienced by young women in her community. She was identified as a young woman who had the confidence to empower girls and young women in her community with knowledge, skills and information that will keep them safe from various forms of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Faith’s courage as well as knowledge and information gained over the year gave her strength to actively voice out her belief as a whistle blower who took the opportunity to speak on behalf of young women who could not speak for themselves. She lost many friends and colleagues who felt that if they sided with her, they would lose their jobs as well or the benefits they received from the organization or from the community. The Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) shows that 45% of women age 15 - 49 have experienced either sexual or physical violence. According to a 2014 report by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Kenya, the magnitude of gender based has been camouflaged by the social-cultural stigmatization associated with any attempt by the survivors to seek justice. However, this leaves the question where one wonders what happens to the reporters of gender based violence, especially if they themselves are vulnerable. Gender based violence is a human rights violation which continues unabated because silence. Reporters of gender based violence or witnesses of the vice do not always speak out because of the outcome once they make a report. In most instances, witness protection is never guaranteed, hence the increase in incidences of violence. This is something that affects women and girls all over the world. It is worse when the incidence occurs in a family setting. Women and men working to prevent or reduce incidents of gender based violence should actively promote protection of whistle blowers or reporters of GBV as a strategy to put an end towards all types of gender violence. This can be done well by influencing policies. I believe that as a community working together to promote the rights of women and girls, we can work together to address this issue which has been long overdue. I lost my job after reporting a case sexual abuse; however, it gave me courage and confidence to encourage other young men and women to speak out, therefore strengthening my leadership skills and increasing my confidence as an individual who is able to put words into action.

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ARREY- ECHI
Mar 19, 2016
Mar 19, 2016

Gender based violence and sexual exploitation is real in many work places and it takes courage to speak out.

Sally maforchi Mboumien
Mar 21, 2016
Mar 21, 2016

Ooohhh what a shame ignorance holds many in captivity. I salute the courage of this young lady who speaks up not minding the consequences.

There are many of such situations out there but fear makes the victims victimize themselves the second time by not seeking for justice. Do you think including a talk on the rights of beneficiaries at the beginning of every project can reduce such malpractices in an organization's work?

helen.ng
Mar 26, 2016
Mar 26, 2016

Hello,

In a world with great male-dominance established in many areas of the world, there are certainly hurdles that must be overcome when addressing issues dealing with gender-based violence. It is heartbreaking to hear about Faith's experiences with sexual abuse and concomitant injustices that are faced by many women and girls like Faith herself. It is empowering to hear how Faith was able to stand up for herself and foster enough strength to speak out and report cases of female-targeted violence in her community. 

In many societies that may have laws prohibiting violence towards women, there is also a great possibility that such acts will be unreported as socities may view them as acceptable and choose to blame the women. 

Unfortunately, the impact of this global epidemic is far reaching. Not only is gender-based violence a human rights abuse, but it is also an economic drain. More importantly, gender-based violence is one of the least discussed and recognized human rights atrocities in the world. Despite many international efforts/agreements to address gender-based violence, there are still many nations that do not consider it a crime. It is the government who is failing to implement policies and laws to stop this and act positively to help women. As each day passes, the perpetuated discrimination strengthens. 

I completely agree with you in that both men and women should be advocating, rather than just one sex. As a global community, we must stand up together and fight the negative perceptions clouding our world in order to make life worth living. We must use our opportunities and blessings to help others, rather than ourselves. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring and empowering post! 

With kindest regards,

Helen Ng

Stephanie A
Mar 29, 2016
Mar 29, 2016

Hi Yvonne,

When you share stats such as the one you did, that 45% of women and girls have experienced sexual and/or physical violence, this really highlights the urgent need to do something about this. Your post helps clarify why the prevelance continues, and I agree with you that breaking the silence and protection for those who do is essential. It must have taken a lot of bravery to speak out, and it shows your strength that even though you lost your job because you spoke out, you were not deterred. Thank you for your commitment to making change on this issue, and for sharing with us about your experience. 

Best,

Stephanie