Violence against women has been reported to be a socially tolerated human rights violation cutting across borders, race, class, ethnicity and religion. The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of 2008 -2009 indicated that 39 percent of women and girls (aged 15 and above) had experienced physical violence. About one in four had experienced such violence in the year preceding the survey. It was also reported that more than one-fifth of Kenyan women had been victims of sexual violence, with the highest percentage having been violated by current or former partners or spouses. This prevalence demonstrated major structural weaknesses in Kenya’s social and cultural fabric.
Jane Adhiambo is a human rights defender from Manyatta slums in Kisumu County who is speaking bolding against sexual and gender-based violence in her community. She has joined a group of bold women who have formed a network of gender defenders dedicated to sensitizing their community on how to speak out and report rape cases in Kisumu. Her fearless activism has however exposed Jane to unwarranted threats and, in some incidences, acts of physical violence.
“3 months ago at around 12am, I was physically assaulted by two men in my house because of being a gender activist. Men disguised in police broke into my house in the middle of the night. They warned me to stop ‘fighting men’ unless I did not want to remain alive. This follows my involvement against sexual and gender-based violence in my area. I was scared but not deterred.”
Despite the threats, the widow and mother of 3, has refused to look away. She has resisted macho stereotypes that disapprove women who have the courage to question the status quo.
“I am very categorical and I still remain firm in defending gender rights. No amount of attacks can deter me from pointing out the wrongdoings in the society. As long as I am alive I will name and shame sexual violence perpetrators unless they kill me.”
Her efforts have been fruitful.She has relentlessly fought for justice for many survivors including the young and old.
“I was alerted by a community member about an 8-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by a college boy. Unfortunately, the boy has been missing since a warrant for his arrest was issued. The girl underwent treatment and she is recuperating well.”
“Another incident involved a young 4-year old boy who was molested by a teenage boy. The 16-year-old was arrested and is serving his sentence at an approved school “
Through participating in capacity-building training on sexual and gender-based violence, Jane has gained a lot of knowledge and skills as a paralegal and trainer. She continues to be vocal about human rights abuses and is committed to helping survivors speak out and seek comprehensive post care support and justice.
Jane calls for the elimination of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence during the #16Days Campaign and urges for the silence to be broken.