Category Archives: UNiTE

Call to Action to End Violence Against Women & Girls

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A Call to Action to End Violence Against Women & Girls_Page_01

This Call to Action holds a common human rights agenda, uniting our visions & clarifying our demands. With it, we can be many voices speaking loudly and consistently backed by evidence and experience in ways that convince, inspire and challenge others outside our movements to use their power.

This call to action is a strategic demand for change.

Together, we call for greater action and an explicit commitment to the elimination of violence against women.

COMMIT TO ACTION!

Join the hundreds of other individuals and organizations working toward ending violence against women.

Join here:

http://www.lancet.com/series/violence-against-women-and-girls

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Brazil: Dilma Rousseff re-elected President

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source: The News

Leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff was re-elected president of Brazil on Sunday, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal said, after a down-to-the-wire race against center-right challenger Aecio Neves.

Rousseff, the first woman president of the world’s seventh-largest economy, took 51.64 percent of the vote to 48.36 percent for business favorite Aecio Neves, election officials said with more than 99 percent of ballots counted.

After a vitriolic campaign that largely split the country between the poor north and wealthier south, Rousseff crucially picked up enough middle-class votes in the industrialized southeast to cement a fourth straight win for her Workers’ Party (PT).

The 66-year-old, a former leftist guerrilla who was jailed and tortured for fighting the 1964-1985 dictatorship, called for unity. And she promised dialogue to give Brazil the changes she said that she knows voters want.

“This president is open to dialogue. This is the top priority of my second term,” she told supporters in the capital Brasilia, clad in white beside two-term predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

After four years of sluggish economic growth culminating in recession this year, she admitted her own report card had to improve and vowed to combat corruption.

“I want to be a much better president than I have been to date,” she said, issuing “a call for peace and unity” after a bitter campaign of low blows and mutual recriminations.

click here to read more and to see the challenges

6 Month Solidarity Vigil for Chibok Schoolgirls – to be held on 13th Oct 2014

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6 Month Solidarity Vigil for Chibok Schoolgirls – to be held on 13th Oct 2014

In recognition of the International Day of the Girl Child, join us in vigil for the 200+ Chibok Schoolgirls of Nigeria as we mark 6 months since their kidnapping by Boko Haram. Our partners in Nigeria have called on us to help them ensure that the call to #BringBackOurGirls is still loud and clear – join civil society, expert guest speakers and creatives in holding governments to account, especially Nigeria in its obligation to the Chibok girls and others living under threat of similar circumstances each day.

We are in the midst of a global civil rights struggle for girls’ rights. Please join us as we renew our call to #BringBackOurGirls, and honor the theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl Child — ending the cycle of violence. Come learn more about how you can help protect and celebrate the girl child in your communities!

Please Join Us!
When: October 13, 2014; 6-8pm
Where: PAWA 254 Rooftop, Nairobi

http://pawa254.org/

http://equalitynow.org

http://femnet.co

http://www.soawr.org

Indecent Dress

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By Mallah Tabot 

Cameron’s Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family says young girls should stop indecent dressing so as to avoid sexual violence.

Here’s the thing. Rape and other forms of sexual violence have never been about dressing or decency. It is about power and control. And the way a woman dresses should never be a man’s excuse for abusing her sexually. Never. Plus if rape were about indecent dressing, women in the Middle East would never be victims. But we all know what happens there daily.

It is a terrible thing to instill in men’s heads that it is okay to sexually abuse a woman because she didn’t dress right.

So here’s my point. Educate girls about the importance of appropriate dressing codes-that’s fine by me. But to link indecent dressing to sexual violence is giving perpetrators of this form of violence a strong backing to keep going, and as a minster of women’s empowerment, that is totally unacceptable!!

 

According to the Sexual Offenses Act…

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By Nebila Abdulmelik

By now, I think you must have heard about Liz’s story – and the #JusticeForLiz campaign that has been started.

We’re happy to note that over 600,000KSH was raised for Liz, who underwent surgery and is recovering. Doctors are hopeful that she should be back on her feet in six weeks. KNCHR (Kenya National Commission on Human Rights) and Fida-Kenya are suing the government for failure to protect.

I just wanted to bring your attention to the Sexual Offenses Act and the provisions within that must guide this case:
As per Legal Notice 10 on page 8:
Any person who commits the offense of rape or defilement under this Act in association with another or others, or any person who, with common intention, is in the company of another or others who commit the offense of rape or defilement is guilty of an offense termed gang rape and is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less fifteen years but which may be enhanced to imprisonment for life.

So why have Liz’s rapists been allowed to slash grass and go free??

As per legal notice 35, point 3 & 4 of the Sexual Offenses Act (on who bears medical expenses)
3)Notwithstanding the provisions of sub-section (2), the Minister responsible for health shall prescribe circumstances under which a victim of a sexual offense may at any time access treatment in any public hospital or institution.
4) The expenses incurred for the treatment or professional counseling of any person convicted of an offense under this section or a victim of a sexual offense as the case may be, shall be borne by the State.

So why did the public have to pay for Liz’s hospital bills? Why did she have to wait three months to undergo surgery? Where is the accountability of public servants??

The perpetrators are still at large, despite a police probe that was launched, concluded and handed over to the Department of Public Prosecutions  without any arrests. The police who handled her case very poorly have not faced any disciplinary action.

The online petition #JusticeForLiz now has over 934,000 signatures (as of 11:42PM Sunday) and counting. Join us in demanding #JusticeForLiz and in demanding public accountability, an end to violence and an end to impunity. We must never forget that Liz is one story – she is unfortunately not the first nor the last victim or survivor of violence, but we must use her story and this case as a rallying point – to express solidarity, to express our outrage and to demand action. We must act. For Liz, for Mbabazi and for so many others in similar situations.

Nebila Abdulmelik is the Head of Communications at FEMNET. Connect with her – communiation@femnet.or.ke or @aliben86 or on her blog – aliben86.wordpress.com.

Justice For Liz

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BusiaRapeOn the International Day of the Girl, we ask you to join us in demanding justice for Liz, a 16 year old girl who was beaten and gang-raped on her way home from her grandfather’s funeral and dumped in a pit latrine in Busia, Kenya. She is now wheelchair bound with a broken spine and has the worst case of fistula. She recognized her rapists and identified them to the police. Police arrested perpetrators only to have them slash grass as ‘punishment’ after which they were released.

Please sign and circulate widely the petition demanding an immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators as well as disciplinary action on the police officers who failed to handle their duties to serve and protect. We must not allow impunity to reign and women and girl’s bodies to continue to be battlefields. No more violence. No more impunity. Justice Now!

Engage in the online conversations – #BusiaRape #JusticeForLiz. Let’s make lots of noise – too deafening for the powers that be to ignore.

Donations can be sent to MPesa Paybill 500944 to help meet Liz’s hospital bills.

For more information –

COVAW Statement – Call for Immediate Arrest and Prosecution of Busia Gang
Kenyans accuse police of ignoring gang rape

Where Kenyan Women Stand: Assault on Hon. Rachel Shebesh

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By Dr. Awino Okech

Like many Kenyans, I am deeply disturbed by the raw footage of Nairobi Governor Kidero’s vicious assault against Hon. Rachel Shebesh, Nairobi women’s representative, which occurred at his office on 6th of September 2013. I am troubled for two major reasons. First,  governor Kidero’s public display of uncontrolled fits of anger and subsequent “no recollection” argument tells us much more about his penchant for violence in conflict management than his spin-doctors weak public relations attempts. Second, I have spent the last decade working to create safe spaces for women. This is a commitment that is manifest through teaching in institutions of higher learning, working with communities of women and men across Africa and engaging policy makers in the region on the creation of effective gender equitable policies. I am committed to these safe spaces because like many Kenyans I have relatives who have died in the aftermath of violent attacks by their male spouses.

They did not die after one isolated fit of “provoked” rage but after years of physical and verbal abuse that begun with the proverbial slap. Silence was maintained in order to preserve a marriage, avoid public stigma and the “what did you do” question. I have friends who have been sexually solicited at work because they were seen as sexual objects irrespective of their qualifications and position in those companies. I have been part of institutions where sexual innuendos and commentary about women’s dress, look and inappropriate remarks about sex were casually uttered by senior male staff because he is an “African man” and this is what men do when they interact socially with women even within a professional environment. I have been violently mugged in the streets of Westlands with threats of rape casually bandied as the mugger left the money that was in my bag. Other women have not been so lucky since it did not stop at a threat. They were raped. These are indicators of where Kenyan women stand across class, ethnicity and age, which cumulatively frame Kenyans perceptions of the proverbial “Wanjikus” and the value we attach to her (our) contributions and place in society.

As I read Kenyans reactions to Governor Kidero’s assault against Hon. Shebesh, I was disturbed by the faceless reactions on twitter and facebook that affirmed how low we have sunk as a country. This assault has been argued to be a ploy by the government of the day to entrap the governor. It has been used to assert Luo masculinity specifically and Kenyan masculinity generally. Hon. Shebesh is framed as the anti-thesis of a “good Kenyan woman” because “she is too aggressive and needed to be tamed”. These arguments affirm the high levels of tolerance we have for brutish behavior. There is no code of conduct we hold our leaders to and therefore ourselves. The raw data generated from social media responses to the assault point to consistent efforts to control women through assertions about the “proper” way to exercise femininity, sexuality, physical movement and voice. They are palpable indicators of where Kenyan women stand despite laws and “opportunities”. It is a firm DO NOT CROSS THE LINE warning.

Governor Kidero show integrity, strength of character and courage – the same courage you displayed in publicly assaulting Hon. Shebesh – by halting the weak and embarrassing denials. Accept that you assaulted her, offer a public apology, handover the mantle to your deputy as this criminal matter is investigated and concluded. Deal with the consequences of your rash reaction.

Mr. Odinga, as the leader of the political party Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) that Governor Kidero is a card carrying member of, speak out unequivocally against this assault in the same manner you have spoken up about the allocation of finances to counties and a parliamentary system of government. This is not about a hierarchy of needs. Show us where Kenyan women stand for you and ODM.

Mr. President you have publicly declared your government’s commitment to ensuring economic, physical and social safety for Kenyan women. The Presidency must deliver a strong statement against this assault given that the Gender Directorate falls under your office. Making women a priority is not only about economic resources and quotas, it is about zero tolerance on all forms of violence. It is about holding all public office holders accountable including Nairobi Senator Sonko, to a minimum code of conduct that contains firm indicators that show us where Kenyan women stand for you and the Jubilee government.

Dr. Awino Okech is a researcher who lives in Nairobi.

Also click to read Tell Me a Story by Michael

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