Normalized Gender-Based Violence in Kenya A Needed Discussion


Picture this, you are in primary school, standard four to be precise. Your mother is a single parent and with several other siblings to feed, she is gone a lot. She brings one of your uncles to help out with the house chores and watch over you and your slightly older brothers while she is out there trying to make ends meet.

Your mother is distracted and with the weight of the world on her shoulders, she does not have time to be friends with her kids. It is strictly business with her. A few weeks in, the uncle has to share the bed with you since the house is quite small. With barely big enough for you and your siblings, creative sleeping arrangements have to be made. You end up sharing a bed with the said uncle since he is supposed to watch over you. Take you to the wash room at night when you are afraid, ensuring you don’t end up wetting the bed. Console you when you are having night mares. So on.

On this particular night you go to bed early. It’s a double-decker bed and you are sleeping on the bottom bed. Your brother who sleeps on the top bed is still busy with your other siblings in the siting room playing draught. Your uncle also excuses himself, claiming he’s had a long day and comes to sleep as well. Before you know it, he is touching you. But you are so innocent and naïve you don’t make anything out of it.

The next day he is not so nice. In fact, once you come home early from school, he gives you chores to perform, failure to which he is going to report to your mother. Remember your mother is so burdened with the responsibilities it actually makes her bitter. You don’t need a confrontation with her for not performing any assigned tasks. These occurrences happen often until he decides to go back to his rural home.

You see, none of this was your wish. In fact, you wouldn’t even wish it on your worst enemy because it leaves you a different person. So you push it to the back of your mind and forget it ever happened. Fast forward to around 15 years later when you are trying to have meaningful relationships with the opposite sex. You are an emotional wreck, self-esteem so low men are actually running away from you. Or rather, you chase them all away. Then you start talking about it and things start getting better. On your fifth trial or what seems like forever, someone comes around who understands you and together you build something beautiful.

No one ever desires to be raped. In fact, it is so bad an ordeal you wouldn’t even want your worst enemy to experience the same. So how can you justify ruining someone’s life simply because they wore a skirt whose hem was a little too short or because they were going on about their business a little bit late at night or just for the mere fact that they didn’t put a fight? Sometimes you are in such a shock that you do not recognize what is going on until after the fact.

Rape is the most highly under-reported crime in Kenya. It is estimated that only 1 out of 20 women in Kenya will report a rape and only 1 in 6 will seek medical assistance. Relying on reported cases will therefore not provide a genuine picture of what is truly happening on the ground. It is also important to note that rape among women is more likely to be perpetrated by men known to them. The main reasons most people don’t report cases of rape is the fear of stigmatization.Many other victims lack trust in the systems and individuals that are supposed to protect them.

To change the society and change the societal norms that normalize rape and sexual harassment.

To report rape call toll-free number 116 to reach the Child line Kenyan and the Gender Violence Recovery Centre via the helpline 0719638006.

This article was written by Sophia Omwamba.



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