COALITION ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN – KENYA: COVAW (K)
LAUNCH OF THE COVAW (K) 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST GENDER BASED VIOLENCE CAMPAIGN THEME AND THE “USE THE BALLOT NOT MY BODY!” PETITION
23RD NOVEMBER 2012
“USE THE BALLOT NOT MY BODY!” PETITION
“Use the ballot not my body!” is a campaign that calls out for a violence-free elections: that violence against women be arrested before and during the upcoming election period. The objective of the Petition is that the Kenyan citizenry call for the Government of Kenya’s commitment to ensure that Gender Based Election Violence does not occur during the upcoming General Elections and that the Government put in place mechanisms to adequately prevent and respond to Gender Based Election Violence in case the same occurs. COVAW (K) therefore launches this national Petition rolling-out from 23rd November 2012, to 23rd February 2013 which is the official end date of the Campaign Period according to the IEBC calendar. During the campaign, COVAW (K) aims to collect at least one (1) million signatures from citizens of Kenya to petition the Government and all relevant duty bearers to protect women and girls during the upcoming election period. The history as was witnessed during the 2007/2008 Post Election Violence must not repeat itself.
Election time in Kenya is usually a night mare for women and girls in Kenya. Reports conducted by numerous organizations after the 2007/08 Post Election Violence indicate that the highest reported numbers for Sexual and Gender Based Violence experienced during the period exceeded 3000 cases. Mara J. Roberts in her Conflict Analysis of the 2007 Post election Violence in Kenya published in 2009, states that over 3,000 innocent women were raped during the conflict period. Even more reliable a source is the Waki Commission Report which was published at the conclusion of mandate of the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence which had been set up in 2008 to investigate the advent and extent of violence during the Post-Election Violence Period. This Report states that the Nairobi Women’s Hospital treated 653 individuals to whom it was able to offer comprehensive services, including the administration of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (“PEP”). The Report then clarifies that this number as recorded and provided by the Nairobi Women’s Hospital excluded other persons who presented at the hospital after the 72 hour period when PEP is effective. Therefore, it is clear that this number as provided by the hospital is not entirely indicative of the total number of individuals who went to the hospital to be treated for injuries related to sexual violence. Further, the Report states that the Kenyatta National Hospital, Gender Based Violence Recovery Center (“GBVRC”) recorded at least 146 cases of sexual violence between December 2007 and June 2008. Also, that the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, Nakuru, managed 29 rape cases during the violence period.
It is well appreciated that the above figures do not accurately reflect the actual happenstance of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Kenya during the Post-Election Violence period. During the post poll violence, many women, children and men were unable to access medical services within good time owing to insecurity, inadequacy or unavailability of such services at the time. This history must not repeat itself. However, COVAW (K) is concerned that there have been no mechanisms put in place to prevent the occurrence of such violence during the run up to and conduct of the upcoming General Elections. There has been a stark lack of accountability from the Government of Kenya with little or no investigative processes being undertaken, and even less prosecutions being secured against perpetrators of heinous acts of violence visited upon women and girls during the violence period.
Further, there have been recent cases recorded by COVAW (K) indicating the existence of Sexual Gender Based Violence (“SGBV”) in the Tana River Delta, which incidents are yet to be investigated and/or followed up by the relevant authorities. In addition, Gender Based Violence cases in Mombasa witnessed during the clashes caused by the Mombasa Republican Council, in Garissa, and Baragoi areas, are attendant and have evidenced the upstart and continued violations against women, in the lead up to the upcoming General Elections. There has been no conclusive statement issued by the National Police Service on what work is currently underway to arrest this situation or bring the perpetrators to book. It must also be emphasized that in the case of the 2007/08 Post Election Violence, there were numerous cases of sexual violations committed by State Security Agents, a reality which is now being re-experienced in the Tana River Delata. What is the Government of Kenya doing to address this situation? Is the occurrence of Violence against Women being noted in this and other parts of Kenya not being considered as a warning sign to the upstart of violence similar to that witnessed during the 2007/08 Post Election Violence?
COVAW (K) is concerned on how a rise in militarism exposes women and girls to gender crimes. Militarism is an ideology that creates a culture of fear and supports the use of violence, aggression, or military interventions for settling disputes and enforcing economic and political interests. Militarism elevates certain hegemonic forms of masculinity which then become dominant and inform the day to day interactions between women and men, and amongst men themselves. It privileges certain violent forms of masculinity, which often have grave consequences for the true safety and security of women who do not conform to these roles, and of society as a whole.
In times of conflict, perpetrators use all means to justify the happenstance of Sexual and Gender Based Violence. Scores of women and girls are raped and defiled during these conflict situations. Gang rape, sexual harassment, physical abuses and indecent assault are some of the most heinous crimes that are perpetrated during conflict situations including the 2007/08 Post Election Violence.
It is on this premise therefore that COVAW (K) has purposed to launch a Campaign Petition dubbed “USE THE BALLOT, NOT MY BODY!”. The Campaign is being launched at the onset of the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence which officially begins on 25th November. It is envisioned that on 23rd February 2013, when the official Campaign Period shall be concluded according to the IEBC calendar, that these one million signatures shall be presented to all relevant duty bearers, in order to question which mechanisms have already been put in place to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls during the run up to and conduct of the upcoming General Elections.
The Petition is calling upon His Excellency the President, the Right Hon. Prime Minister, the Hon. Chief Justice, the Hon. Attorney General, the Parliament of Kenya, and other State Organs concerned with the conduct of elections, including the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission, Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, the National Police Service Commission, the Kenya Defence Forces, Media Council of Kenya and all Political Parties to ensure that no woman or girl is violated during election period.
For more information contact:
Coalition on Violence against Women – Kenya,
Valley Field Court, Korosho Road, off Gitanga Road, Nairobi.
Telephone: +254 722 594 794/ 733 594 794/ 20 804 0000/1