Kibra Celebrates the Street Children Day

Post by Michael Asenga

Find pictures of the day here
The street children day was marked on 12th April 2014 in Kibera bringing various organizations. (Koinonia Community, Amnesty International, Pillars of Kibera, Consolation East Africa, Shofco, De-Paul Home Olympic, faith based organizations representing the various mosques and churches in Kibera) and stakeholders interested on the plight of these children. 17 primary schools of Kibera were part of the celebrations. Tone la Maji and Consolation East Africa (CEA) among the local civil society, faith based organizations, schools and government departments with special respect to the children’s office provided the leadership for these efforts. This event went on concurrently with other activities carried out in different parts of the country in honour of the street children.

The event started with a match at Karanja Road that ended at Ndugu Mdogo home. The guest of honour at the event was the Deputy Count Commissioner for Kibra. The event was graced by various children artistic presentations. The first presentation being a poem that highlighted on the life of street children. It underlined vividly public stigma directed to these children, neglect and the life of fear . The second presentation painted a picture on the lives of orphans, illustrating social alienation that leads them to street life. The children were encouraged to see themselves as not being alone because God is their constant companion and will never leave them uncared for. Various artistes were present, notable among them being the MOG who sang and danced together with the children. The civil society and faith based organizations, used the occasion to lobby with the government for more efforts to empower street and poor families and for better services for the street children not only in Kibra but the entire country.
During the event, a speech was presented on the status of the street children in Kenya. This speech was followed by a presentation of an on-going study on reintegration challenges experienced by young adults once they leave charitable institutions of care (CCIs). The study is conducted by KARDS in association with Koinonia Community, Kenya Society of Care-leavers (KESCA) and Koinonia Beneficiaries Welfare Association (KOBWA).
The study exposes dysfunctional and poverty ridden backgrounds characterizing the street children phenomenon in Kenya. It also explored other childhood experiences such as exposure to violence, rejection at an early age, hunger, malnutrition and disease. These extreme experiences including peer pressure may act as push factors to street life. Appropriate measures are always needed to effect reintegration at an early opportunity. Where this is not possible, the charitable children institutions (CCIs) could come in handy to save children from severe negative consequences of street life. There are however a myriad challenges experienced when the reintegration process is not successful. First the young adults are expected to become instant adults, fending for themselves and assuming adult responsibilities. Secondly the weak family ties by these children exposes them to all manner of possible exploitation including human trafficking. Thirdly, the children may end up becoming “teenage parents”, criminals or commercial sex workers. Lastly, there are always dangers that the young adults may relapse back to the streets. The government could play a role in reintegration through easing the procedure of issuing identity cards for the former street youth and provide opportunities for work integration. The study is ongoing and will probably be finished in August 2014.
This presentation was followed by the launch of an illustrated booklet on the rights of the child. The booklet was distributed to all the children in attendance during the day.
The area Chief then introduced the government officers who had graced the occasion. He explained that the government appreciates civil societies and other stakeholders working to assist the street children of Kibera. He then invited the deputy County commissioner for Kibera who after acknowledging the work done by the civil society in rescuing children responded to the request that had been raised by various stakeholders urging sub-county officers to be considerate when issuing identity cards to street children. Lastly, he expressed concerns about the recent radicalization of youth by some civil societies and urged that children and young people need to be taught how to love their country and become harbingers of peace.

Lastly, all in attendance were asked to visit and support the “street children day” website.

Schools that participated
A. Old Kibera Primary
B. Again Primary school
C. Toi primary school
D.st Juliet Primary school
E.Depaul children center
F.Ibrahim children
G. Utu primary school
H. Little Prince
I .line saba kings
J.Mbagathi Primary

2. Churches and Mosques

3. Human Right activists

organizations
Hamlet international
Children of Kibera
Carroliner for Kibera
Binti Muslims community
Pillars of Kibera
Scout groups
Lift the children Kibera
Young rovers kibera
Guest
Deputy County Commissioner
Other guests
Dco Langatta Mrs Harriet Kiara
Chief Mr
Ass chiefs

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Challenges of decriminalising sex work

East Africa Standard By Beverline Ongaro June 5 2012

A Kenya National Commission on Human Rights report ‘Realising sexual and reproductive right; a reality or a myth’ had interesting findings and recommendations on sex workers that has unfortunately not generated debate it deserves; rather the focus especially, in the media has been on same-sex relations.

The report’s recommendations in relation to sex workers are a contradiction of some sort and will make eunuch the efforts to the safeguard of the dignity of sex workers. On one hand, the report recommends decriminalisation and regulation of voluntary sex work for men and women to make the practice safe for the sex workers and clients.

On the other hand, it calls for implementation of a counter-trafficking law to be implemented fully to eradicate instances of forced sex work.

The fact that these recommendations were made side by side demonstrates that there is no dialectical appreciation of how sex work and human trafficking for sexual exploitation are almost intrinsically linked. Human trafficking has become unfortunate social reality that is fuelled by sex work. This is on account it is not possible to fully regulate and ensure sex work is safe.

How feasible is it to differentiate forced and voluntary sex? Persons with licences to permit sex work within in their premises would just easily engage in human trafficking for sexual exploitation by stating that all women and men in their premises work there voluntary.

This leads to the question as to whether the booths should be installed with surveillance cameras including when sex workers are serving clients and hence raises the concern on right to privacy for both of them.

In other jurisdictions, notably Amsterdam with its ‘progressive’ laws have had to contend with these concerns especially after noting that sex work is purveyor to trafficking for sexual exploitation. Most of the workers had been trafficked and were abused even within booths with installed cameras.

And the demand side?

There were reported incidents of sex workers subjected to inhumane treatment. These forlorn states of affairs have been discussed by various stakeholders at international and regional levels. Notably culminating to a communiqué, “Global Efforts to Eradicate Violence and Discrimination against Women and Girls: A Discussion in Combating Sex Trafficking in Eastern Africa September 2009 in Nairobi” that was drawn by civil society organisations speared headed by Equality Nown.

The communiqué in line with singular observation and approach by human rights activists advocates for enactment and implementation of laws that criminalise the ‘customers’ to deal with the demand side of prostitution rather than simple blanket decriminalisation and regulation of prostitution. It would have been expected that Commission could have at least moved towards this direction.

Its quest for safe practice of sex workers will remain a Chimera for it failed to address how discrimination and inhumane treatment of sex workers is fuelled by the nomenclature-prostitution: the prevailing perception is that prostitutes evoke inhumane treatment towards them.

This invariably determines whether sex workers have access to reproductive health services from a society that perceives them as ignoble persons.

The report classified sex workers as sex minorities without analysing the plight of sex workers that would classify them as such. This makes the quest for freedom from discrimination and equality of sex worker to be pseudo- equality.

There is need to re-examine the plight of sex workers in prevailing local, regional and international settings, otherwise human rights abuses and violations will continue.

Standard 20th June: No one should be coerced into prostitution

There are some men and women who choose to work as sex workers. And there are those voices actively lobbying for Government to legalise it, ostensibly to “cut out the middlemen” to reduce slavery and child prostitution since all sex workers will be identifiable by the authorities. But that is not our focus today.

Those not forced into prostitution find themselves in the vice because they believe it is the only thing they have of value. They claim that they are the ones in control, or that it is a mere physical act.

That should not be confused with freedom of choice. It is a severe lack of self-esteem. Prostitution is heartbreaking and degrading, and is forced sexual slavery, for no right thinking individual wants to hawk their body.

In this regard, at the risk of being seen to be part of the enlightened lot that would like prostitution legalised, we shall defend the right of anyone to choose prostitution, but criminalise those forcing anyone into such bondage.

To avoid sub judice of a recent court case where a parent “leased out” her daughter to a paedophile, we can still cite daily reports of defilement of minors, and human trafficking for purposes of profit.

Our laws are clearly against these practices but as long as long as men are allowed to think they should access sexual services for the most competitive price they can negotiate, it will be hard to stamp out suppliers seeking to service this demand.

Debase their dignity

We must, however, draw the line where adults take advantage of children for self-gratification and in blatant disregard of their human rights, debase their dignity, leave them diseased, pregnant, out-of-school, bruised and psychologically traumatised.

Perhaps, legislation should be amended to hand out stiffer sentencing to offenders. Silence is akin to collusion and paints us as a morally deficient generation that could not stand up for the future citizens of this brave new world.

Kenya: New Book on the Difficulties faced by Sex Workers Out

East African Standard by Goro wa Kamau 18th August 2012

Title: A Walk at Midnight

Author: Catherine Wanjohi

Publisher: Life Bloom Services International 

Please visit this site to get in touch with the author

A Walk at Midnight is the story of the author’s journey with sex workers as she attempts to rehabilitate and inspire them with a new sense of dignity and wholesomeness. It is a journey driven by a need to give these abused women and girls a second chance in life.

It all begun quite dramatically in 2002 when the author, then a principal in a girls’ secondary school found a letter from a parent addressed to her on her desk. The parent who was HIV-positive wrote: “Teacher, you’ve been very kind to me and my girls and I am sorry I wasn’t able to attend the parents meeting last weekend … I have been sick … I don’t know how long I will live. Should I die soon, I will live my daughters with you.” Why would a dying woman have the confidence to write such a letter to her daughters’ school principal?

The letter was traumatising. Now Wanjohi understood why the youngest of the woman’s daughters had asked for permission to go to hospital in Nairobi and why she had attempted suicide when the permission was denied.

She arranged visit the ailing woman together with her daughter. After the visit, the author wondered how many of her students may be similarly affected by HIV/Aids only to discover there were several of them. The author responded by supporting the establishment of peer counselling clubs in her school. Catherine Gathoni, the girl who had just recently attempted suicide, became one of the most active participants in these clubs. She has told her story in the book Can Scars Become Stars?

The author learnt from the girls in the peer counselling clubs about the kind of homes most of her students came from — broken homes mostly headed by poor women for whom paying school fees was a struggle. In addition, those mothers who were infected with HIV/Aids had to deal with problems of social stigma. From then on any time a female parent came to see her she encouraged her to share what other story she might be holding back.

“The stories were often about negligent and irresponsible husbands, early marriages, poverty and single parenthood — voices of what really happened at home, in the family, in our society. Issues that could not be addressed in the narrow confines of the school compound.”

This realisation culminated in the author’s resignation from her school principal’s job. She founded Life Bloom Services International, an organisation through which she started working with sex workers.

Attempted suicide

At the start, it was a baptism of fire, a personally traumatising experience. A Walk at Midnight documents the lives of numerous abused women and girls who are forced to work on the streets of our cities and towns peddling their flesh in an effort to feed their children and often-poor families. Abused and stigmatised, most of these women have to be high on alcohol and drugs in order to numb their minds and conscience against the violence meted on them by their customers and law enforcement agencies.

The book is full of touching anecdotes from the lives of these abused women. Beyond the fear of the consequences of reckless, sometimes unprotected sex, their daily encounters with criminals and other shadowy characters that prowl the sex dens and the violence that accompanies their lives, these women are our ordinary sisters. Like all mothers, they want a better life for their children.

The author, a co-traveller with these women in their struggles, documents how her Life Bloom International Services works closely with Government agencies such as hospitals, prisons, the Provincial Administration, the Church and owners of bars and lodgings in Naivasha and other places where her organisation is active. She ensures the sex workers get access to medical and spiritual care as well as dignified treatment from such agencies as the police when they, inevitably, get in trouble. Through her organisation, the author teams up with well-wishers to train the women in leadership and counselling, trade and vocations, reproductive health, peace-building, basic and computer literacy among a range of other employable skills in a bid to give the sex workers a second chance in life

Man Prostitutes 10 Year Old Boys

The Citizen Saturday, 17 March 2012

A 10-year-old boy shook when asked about being prostituted to two other men by an adoptive father who regularly had sex with him, according to police, who said the boy was fearful of talking because he didn’t want to be taken from his home or separated from his new siblings.

The adoptive father has been charged with raping three boys in his care and compelling prostitution by hiring the 10-year-old out for sex. He and two other men remained in jail on rape charges.
Federal and local law enforcement officials said they’re widening the investigation into child sexual exploitation allegations against the father, who worked out of his home as an insurance claims adjuster. His name is being withheld to protect the children’s identities.

Troy police said they impounded the father’s truck and seized four laptops from the home and a video camera and two wooden paddles from the master bedroom.

School officials said the man had recently withdrawn the three adopted children from school, saying he would home school them. A neighbour said he had no idea anything lurid might be going on in the home.

“You don’t know what goes on inside people’s homes,” said neighbour Ed Rogers, who had lived across the street from the man the past five years in a neighborhood lined with single-story ranch homes, typical in this working class city of 25,000 people about 20 miles north of Dayton. “I’ll never look at that house the same way again. I’ll just look at it with sickness.”

The man at the center of the investigation is a longtime Troy resident who had been involved in a local youth basketball programme. Police Capt. Chris Anderson said police so far haven’t found any signs of any inappropriate behavior with other children, even as calls poured in from worried parents.

“Shock and disbelief,” Anderson said of the community’s reaction.
Rogers and his wife, Sherry, said the man was something of a loner but would chit-chat when out mowing his lawn or when the kids were playing outside. Sherry Rogers recalled the day that his blinds were usually drawn shut at his home, a few blocks from an elementary school.

Police said they hadn’t found any records of past criminal charges against the man. He had adopted three children, including a 9-year-old girl, and was in the processing of adopting the fourth who lived with him.

The children came from Texas, where state officials said Thursday they have been reviewing their records but had found nothing out of the ordinary or outside of procedures, which include background checks, and parental training.
“We’re sick about the results, but it’s not that the process was not followed,” said Patrick Crimmins, spokesman for the Texas family services agency. “This appears to be a tragic but isolated incident.”

Ohio children’s services officials said they were also reviewing the adoptions, handled through a private agency certified by the state. Ohio spokesman Ben Johnson said the adoptive father was first certified as a foster parent in Miami County in 2005. He said Ohio and Texas officials were in communication about the case.

The case comes as Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine have made investigating human trafficking and exploitation of minors a priority. “This is a horrible situation,” DeWine said. “It’s always shocking whenever you have children who are abused, and when children are sexually abused … this is so reprehensible.”

An undercover detective in Franklin County, part of a state task force, talked online with the adoptive father, who said he would arrange sex with a 10-year-old boy, Troy police said. He had been led to the adoptive father by another man who had posted a Craigslist ad wanting “taboo” sex, police said.

The adoptive father was going to meet the undercover detective at a McDonald’s in a nearby city, but police moved in two days before the scheduled meeting, according to records. They confronted the man with text messages and online communications about arranging sex with the boy, police said in a case report filed in court.

Federal and state prosecutors and investigators and police from three Ohio cities were meeting to discuss how to proceed. The FBI said it was pursuing federal sexual exploitation charges.(Agencies)

600 Ugandan girls ‘victims of Malaysia sex trade’

African victims of sex trafficking narrate their stories. At least 600 Ugandan girls have reportedly been forced into Malaysia’s sex trade. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW |
By PHILIPPA CROOMEPosted Wednesday, February 15  2012 at  12:41

At least 600 Ugandan girls have been forced into Malaysia’s sex trade in what has become a human trafficking epidemic, a foreign diplomat has said.

Hajah Noraihan, the Malaysian consul to Uganda, said despite an early warning to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008 when the number of trafficked girls stood at 30, the constant flow of victims had not slowed.

She said Malaysian intelligence indicated 10 girls continued to fall through the cracks of Uganda’s immigration and labour systems daily.

“Nothing was done and this is what happened,” Ms Noraihan said.

Malaysia is currently on a US State Department watch list for not having shown adequate evidence of its efforts to combat the scourge.

 However, it has been working to curb the illegal practice after a raid last October in which 21 Ugandan girls were freed from forced prostitution.

Only five of these have since returned to Uganda, while the rest were being held in a Malaysian detention centre, Ms Noraihan said.

A total of 60 girls were being held on fraudulent visa charges as a result of an ongoing immigration sweep.

The line between girls who were “caught” or “saved” as Ms Noraihan termed them, was often a matter of technicality. A victim’s silence or shame could see them face criminal charges instead of being brought back to Uganda, she said.

http://www.africareview.com/News/600+Ugandan+girls+victims+of+Malaysia+sex+trade/-/979180/1327960/-/j66twsz/-/index.html

Those who go after gays and sex workers will one day go after teachers and doctors

By Daniel K. Kalinaki  (email the author)
Posted  Thursday, February 16  2012 at  00:00

Last week, after a day long meeting in Entebbe, and as we sat in the hotel lobby bar waiting out the traffic to Kampala over drinks, we noticed an interesting group of young people headed to dinner.

 Someone in our party then pointed out that the group was comprised of gay rights activists who were attending a seminar at the hotel. We paid them no further attention but I remember wondering quietly to myself what would happen if word got round about the meeting.

As it turned out, it did. A few days later Fr. Simon Lokodo, the ethics and integrity minister, turned up at the meeting and broke it up, ordering the police to arrest some of the organisers in the process. The raiding of the meeting came just a few days after a watered down version of David Bahati’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill was reintroduced before Parliament.

Those who love to “bash the gays” were quick to congratulate Bahati, whose Bill has brought him fame and notoriety beyond his wildest dreams, and Lokodo, who many had never heard of outside his Karamoja constituents, until the story broke.

One must pity the Ethics minister; he has to wait around quietly, trying not to be noticed when fellow ministers are being accused of corruption, until an emotive subject such as this springs up to afford him an opportunity to show face and justify his income.

Regardless of one’s views about homosexuality, we must all worry when fundamental freedoms, including the constitutional right to assembly and expression, are violated in this manner. As far as is publicly known the meeting was broken up not because the participants were involved in homosexuality which remains a crime on our books, but because the minister did not like what they were discussing.

It is not the first time. Last year James Nsaba Buturo, who was ethics minister before Lokodo, ordered the closure of a workshop that Akina Mama, a civil society group that works to empower women, had organised at Serena Lake Victoria Hotel to train sex workers in human rights and leadership. Before you fall off your moral high horse it might be useful to note that it is not just the gay-huggers and sex workers who are being hunted down and shut up.

Recently the police cordoned off Bat Valley Primary School and, in the process, stopped a meeting teachers had called to discuss whether they should go on strike again to force government to raise their salaries.

Sources in civil society say organisations working on oil issues have had meetings in Amuru, Kanungu and Buliisa broken up to stop them from teaching locals about their rights and responsibilities over the oil resources.

What is happening is a deliberate erosion of civil liberties and the rights to assemble and express alternative points of view. The banning and violent breaking up of Walk-to-Work demonstrations is the most notable event but it could be argued that the banning of Bimeeza, those outdoor town hall-style radio talk shows has done even more to hamper ordinary citizens from holding officials to account and express their views on topical issues.

The overt and covert attacks on the media are just the icing on a poisoned cake.
To institutionalise this closing off of the public space, the government has proposed a law – the Public Order Management Bill – that not only seeks to reverse a court decision but also makes it very hard for people to meet and discuss the way they are governed.
This country has a history of people settling their differences violently and the road to violence that we are walking down is paved by hundreds of pebbles that have been thrown at our rights and liberties.

We can never expect to agree unanimously on controversial matters such as homosexuality but we must never allow a situation in which we can’t talk about our differences, or one in which only those who say things we like to hear are allowed to speak.

It is easy to thumb one’s nose at the gay rights activists and call for them to be jailed and the keys cast into Lake Victoria but the same people who will arrest the gays will one day return to arrest the teachers and doctors asking for better conditions. We should not let our moral convictions interfere with our legal obligation to respect the rights of all.

dkalinaki@ug.nationmedia.com

http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/OpEdColumnists/DanielKalinaki/-/878782/1328324/-/rxl848z/-/index.html

Prostitution is unAfrican? You must be joking…

By TEE NGUGI

Comments attributed to Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa on plans to legalise prostitution in the city have elicited horror from a cross-section of society. The various reactions are well represented by Nairobi Metropolitan Development Minister Njeru Githae’s view on the subject. Wearing the pious face of the faithful, Mr Githae denounced prostitution as immoral, unlawful and unAfrican.

 These terms, unleashed with self-righteous indignation at various points in our post-colonial national conversation, do not, in and of themselves, possess the eternal self-evident meaning their users presuppose. Their meaning is, in fact, dependent on the vagaries of social development and shifting power relations.

Take the idea of morality, for instance. The morality of Victorian England, in which the slightest hint of sexuality was frowned upon, was different from more permissive eras before and after. And in many traditional African societies, it was normal for women to go bare-chested, a practice that would today offend public morality in most African urban areas, at least.

In other words, a society’s sense of what is moral or immoral is a product of its worldview, which in turn is a function of social change.

If there should be any doubt about the political nature of law, Kenyans need only look at the number of laws that are being made obsolete by the new Constitution. The sedition law, for instance. During the Kanu dictatorship, scores of Kenyans were jailed after “due” process in courts of law on charges of sedition, which usually meant being suspected of holding views contrary to those of the president and the ruling party.

In the Jim Crow era in the USA, there were so-called miscegenation laws that, if not overtaken by political and social change, would have put many Americans in jail, including President Barack Obama’s parents. What is lawful and what is not is subject to political process.

The epithet “unAfrican” is a psychological weapon employed by traditional or modern elites to achieve conformity of thought or entrench privilege. It can be used in any number of situations.

African women drivers were, at some point, stigmatised as unAfrican, as if African males driving were a much revered practice in traditional society. And it was not long ago that democracy and human rights were dismissed as unAfrican by Africa’s autocrats.

Hypocrisy

African intellectuals too have found much use for the label, often ridiculing those who criticise their cultural nationalist theories as unAfrican, a practice that, at its most absurd, chastised as cultural traitors Africans learning ballet, classical music, opera or even playing rugby and golf.

But I suspect that most of us in the privacy of our thoughts know that the fulminations against prostitution are a cover for a deep hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is sustained by a myth propagated by ourselves but which fools no one else.

Kenyan writer Wangui wa Goro, talking in another context, says: “ I think there is a myth, an idea that people in Africa don’t enjoy love, don’t enjoy sex, that it is not physical and that it is not emotional…” Thus we refused to publicly discuss Aids and sex in the 1980s and early 90s until threat of extinction forced us to debate the subject and come up with remedying policies.

Prostitution is a reality that we all know exists among us, but which, to assuage our misplaced moral sensibilities, we pretend does not exist. After all, we lie to ourselves, it is not African, it is immoral, our laws forbid it! It is a lie we hold on to even when, as happened a few years ago, a police swoop on Koinange Street nets MPs and Cabinet ministers.

Research over the years has shown that limited legalisation of prostitution would have a number of benefits. Sex workers could be accorded better STD prevention and treatment services.

The trade would be confined to certain areas instead of being conducted all over the city. Legalising it would also protect the sex workers from abuse and exploitation.

The oldest trade in the world is here to stay. Confronting reality as opposed to hiding from it is key to any society’s survival. As we know from our experience with Aids, the sooner we come to this realisation the better.

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