How I Celebrated the World Orphan Day

Lulu is one orphan who impacted me greatly. Thanks to Anita home for putting a smile on her face. Lulu is one orphan who impacted me greatly. Thanks to Anita home for putting a smile on her face.

Julius Mwangi

The world celebrated the World Orphans Day on 7th May 2014. This day was celebrated bearing in mind the stark reality faced by orphans world over.  We celebrate this day by narrating the story of Lulu.

Lulu is a girl aged 12 who has no mum and no dad. She lost them when she was 4 in 2007 during the Kenyan Post Elections Violence.  And so I decided to listen to her story. Throughout the entire conversation with her, I could not help feeling a heavy lump of sadness in my throat.

The story of Lulu the orphan begins where she suddenly found herself alone after the death of her parents in the most cruel manner.  She only remembers being put into a lorry and taken to an IDP camp. In the IDP camp a kind family took care of her until she was taken by the children department and committed to Anita Children Home in Nairobi.  Several things happened which she has no recollection of. First all  her parents lost their lives. She does not know whether they were buried or not. She only remembers that her parents loved her so much and when she was hurt they would rush to give her attention.

Lulu is at the moment in Standard two.  She is much older than her classmates. This happens to be the fate of most orphans, they pass through many hands before they get stability and are able to join schools. They thus join schools when they are much older than the rest of the other students. After sometimes they become objects of ridicule from their teachers, peers and the public. Homes like Anita among others therefore offer an important service of ensuring that orphans will always be protected and provided with basic necessities.

However, as I continue conversing with Lulu, she shows me her drawings. And she asks me

“Are they beautiful?”

“Yes” I answer. I stare at her drawings which are little sketches of a mother and a dad holding her in the middle. 

“I miss mum and dad” she says. I just look at her again and the lump in my throat swells more. And I am nearly pushed to tears

She leaves me and joins other girls to play. And I am left thanking God for the beautiful solace Anita Home offers to orphans. And I am happy that I remembered to spend my day with an orphan. 

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Sexual Violence Suffered by Commercial Sex Workers in Kenya

Posted by East African Standard 15th August 2012

Disgusting. That is what many people think about commercial sex workers. Historically, the men who have kept these women’s business thriving over time are not condemned.

Although it takes two to tango, for the sex workers’ haters, the man has no problem.

The man is like a shadow; always there but no one remembers him.

So when two sex workers, let’s call them Catherine and Agnes, were beaten up and abused by a man who solicited their services, the two women suffered silently.

They knew no one could listen to them, let alone believe their explanation.

No dignity
Catherine was in the commercial sex work for ten years. Despite the danger involved such as being infected with HIV/Aids and the ultimate stigmatisation associated with it, she hang on – for the money.

Catherine, who is now a peer educator of commercial sex workers in Kilifi County’s Mtwapa area, says the trade was anything but dignifying; the workers were always unsure of what the next man posing as a customer would turn out to be.

“The danger of contracting the HIV virus was ever real because I would sometimes get customers who never wanted to use condoms,” says Catherine.

She notes that in the trade, one would receive many clients some of whom she had never seen before yet many others well known to her.

Some of these men, she says, often turned violent. “He beats you up claiming that you have stolen money from him or just refuses to pay. And if you argue, the public sides with the man because of the suspicion with which commercial sex workers are viewed,” she states. With this kind of attitude, the man makes a twilight woman his property and uses her as he wishes because “he has paid”.

Nowhere to turn
She says there is nowhere commercial sex workers can voice their concerns because even the police are never too keen to hear their stories.

Agnes, also a former commercial sex worker, says prostitution is a murky business. But her greatest worry was how her children – who saw her as the perfect mother – could think of her if they found out what she did for a living.

The single mother of three’s next priority worry was contracting HIV/Aids. But the need for money to take care of herself and the children always made her go back to the activity.

Agnes recounts how on three different occasions she was raped by clients, respectable people in the society but whose HIV status she did not know. The violence meted on her is a typical example of what sex workers experience in the hands of men.

“In one instance, I was raped in a guest house in Ganjoni, Mombasa, by a man who then left me inside the room without any money even though he had a car. I had to have sex with the watchman there so I could get the fare back to Mtwapa,” confesses Agnes, her eyes suddenly filled with tears.

Then she has had near-death experiences. For example, one day a client raped her in his car and demanded to have anal sex. She refused and started screaming, forcing him to speed away.

Fearing for her life, Agnes jumped out of the moving car and sustained injuries. She spent the night in the bush until the following day when she got help.

In all these instances, she says, she would go for post-exposure prophylaxis just to rid her of any sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Involving men
At long last when these two women could not take any more from their ‘respectable’ clients, they quit through the help of a programme run by Solidarity with Women in Distress (Solwodi) Coast.

Solwodi targets areas with high sex work activities like Mtwapa, Ukunda and Mombasa town and works with the sex workers as well as male partners who get intimate with these women.

According to the chief executive, Maureen Karisa, this enables them to get to those at higher risk of contracting HIV.

Karisa says men who engage commercial sex workers have been left out in the fight against HIV/Aids as focus is more on the women. To reach the men, the organisation has many services such as moonlight VCTs and provision of condoms in areas frequented by this group.

Some of these areas are brothels, mnazi dens and strip clubs.

Says Karisa: “Members hold group therapy sessions where they talk with each other in a language they understand. In the process, they also discuss other ideas such as how to access microfinance services.”

Such sessions helped Catherine and Agnes choose new paths to walk. Catherine now sells green groceries in Mtwapa while Agnes runs a local pub in the same locality.

Agnes can now pay her children’s school fees without a worry and is proud to tell them what she does for a living, she says. Both women say they now have steady partners as opposed to before when they would go for any man as long as there was money.

Baghazal Anisa, the Coast Provincial assistant director of medical services, says many people look down upon sex workers yet those who demand the services are normal people in the society.

Says Anisa: “Gender-based violence recovery centres are open to offer help to every Kenyan regardless of who they are.”

The despicable gender violence during the 2007 election crisis

Untold violence was metted on women and families during the Post elections violence of 2007.  A lady in this story narates how she was raped by a law enforcer and how young boys mutilated her private parts. The civil society and faith organizations have to work hard to ensure that these horrors are not ever repeated in Kenya.

By Daily Nation 4th August 2012

The grim TV footage shows Nancy Wanjiru, 37, knee-deep in the murky waters of the Nairobi River at Bondeni village in Huruma slums, begging reluctant neighbours and police to help save her husband. Early that morning of January 3, 2008, at around 9.30 am, a group of marauding youths had stormed their house, disrupted their breakfast and dragged her husband George Gachie out, viciously attacking him with machetes and finally dumping him in the river, perhaps thinking he was dead.

As he was being bundled into a Red Cross ambulance, Mrs Gachie fell to her knees, and a sympathetic crowd gathered around her. She raised her hands, cast her gaze to the sky and wept: “God, what did I do to deserve this?” It was the fifth day since the presidential results of the December 27, 2007 General Election had unleashed unprecedented violence around the country, and it was spreading like bushfire. Ethnic-based madness reigned. Neighbours turned against one another; husbands deserted their wives for belonging to the “wrong” tribe, and law keepers turned violators.

That morning, Mrs Gachie, a mother of three, remembers her family’s breakfast being rudely interrupted by a group of rowdy youths she knew well. They warned the family to vacate the area before the day’s end. “I opened the door because I knew these young men very well. Most of them were my sons’ friends, and I never guessed they had bad motives,” she recounted to the Sunday Nation events of that fateful day. But the gods of madness that had taken over the youths could not be appeased by appeals of friendship. They attacked Nancy Wanjiru, and when her husband rose to her defence, they turned their anger on him.

He ran out, hotly pursued by the bloodthirsty youths. They attacked him savagely with machetes before dumping him in the dirty waters of the Nairobi River, most likely believing they had killed him. Meanwhile, a badly shaken Mrs Gachie slipped out of the house with her children and was given refuge by a neighbour. All the while, her husband was being attacked in the distance. After a while, the youths moved on to other targets and a neighbour ventured out of her house to inform Mrs Gachie that her husband had been killed. She decided to venture out to look for help. Miraculously, the man survived the assault despite extensive injuries, perhaps a testament to his incredible fighting spirit that even allows him to laugh about the incident today.

“I know the people who attacked me very well. In fact I can almost remember very clearly the one who landed the last cut on my head that knocked me out. I re-live that image every time I close my eyes to sleep,” he said. Mr Gachie, who operated a small electronics repair shop in Huruma before the incident, says he has met his assailants many times since then, although they have never exchanged a word. Two young men were arrested in connection with the attack but were released two days later without any charge. “The OCS told us that he had been ordered to release them by people who were in a position to get him fired. He told us there was little he could do and urged us to wait for God’s justice,” he said.

The same youths, he said, looted goods worth Sh180,000 from their house and a small salon they operated. They have since learnt from friends that one of them still has their TV set and a mattress. But had that been the end of the story, he reckons that they would have had an easier time coming to terms with the single incident.

But the tale of multiple horrors that followed has been too much to bear. His wife was raped early the next morning by a police officer who was also his friend. To compound her tribulations, Nancy Wanjiru was sexually assaulted the same day by the same youths who had struck the blow that knocked out her husband the previous day. She said the first sexual assault occurred early in the morning. She said the officer met her in Pangani walking to Kenyatta National Hospital to visit her husband and offered her a lift. However, the officer first took her to the Pangani police quarters where he stayed. “He offered me tea and bread. I had not eaten anything the previous day. I did not have shoes and he gave me slippers belonging to his wife who was away at the time,” she said. But the acts of kindness masked an insidious motive. Her benefactor quickly turned into her tormentor. “He told me ‘you Kikuyus are very bad people,’” she recalled. And, with that statement, the enforcer of the law turned its violater. As the officer forced himself on her, Mrs Gachie says he warned her against screaming for help, saying she would not get any because it was “my police station”. A scar on her right thigh she said was inflicted on her by the officer is a constant physical reminder of the cruel act that she said has forever changed her perceptions of men.

“I was shocked by what he did. He was a friend and a police officer. He had betrayed both bonds by one cruel act. I went away without a word after he finished. I have never been comfortable around men since,” she said. Both Mr Gachie and his wife said the officer was well known to them. “We were not close as such, but we interacted on a number of occasions as he made his rounds here. We were not strangers to one another,” Mr Gachie said.  His wife reported the incident at Pangani police station under OB48/10/1/8 and returned to a camp that had been set up for the internally displaced persons near Moi Airbase in Eastleigh for some quiet reflection.

It was while there that the second assault happened. She said that some time in the evening a group of armed youths descended on the IDPs. People scattered in different directions, and a young man, who she said was among the group that had attacked her husband, pursed her back into the slums where she ran. He pinned her down and attempted to rape her. When she fought back, he pulled out a knife from his pocket and cut her private parts and left her bleeding. “This was a friend of my son doing this to me.”

Rape is often used as a weapon during conflict, and the post-election violence was no exception. Nancy Wanjiru’s plight is easily the story of thousands of women abused during the post-election period. The Commission of Inquiry on the Post-Election Violence (Cipev) headed by Justice Philip Waki put the number of sexual offences at over 3,000. However, various independent organisations contend that the figure could be much higher. Only a handful of victims — 31 in all — were willing to share their experiences with the commission. Eighty-two per cent of victims never reported their ordeal to the police, the commission learnt.

The low turnout was attributed to a number of factors including fear of retaliation, fear of the police, failure to identify their tormentors and the believe that nothing would be done. The Waki Commission heard that the worst cases of sexual abuse occurred in Nairobi’s Kibera and Mathare slums, where hundreds of women and young girls were gang-raped by marauding youths and law enforcers. Ironically, when then Police Commissioner Brigadier Hussein Ali appeared before the commission, he stated that the police force had no statistics on sexual crimes because the force had not deemed it necessary to document them. The Waki report concludes that this cavalier attitude towards sexual crimes by the police was due to the fact that its officers were perpetrators of some of the crimes.

“It is the commission’s view that the involvement of state security agents in the perpetration of sexual violence and the fear of incriminating themselves may partly explain why the police omitted data on sexual violence in the reports they presented to the commission,” the report says. National outrage greeted the commission’s take on the police force’s apathy towards sexual crimes. First Lady Lucy Kibaki intervened and called for an immediate investigation into the crimes.

Reluctantly, the police formed an all-female taskforce headed by then Eastern Provincial Criminal Investigations Department boss Lilian Kiamba soon after the scathing criticism. But three years down the line, the task force’s findings are yet to be made public, and not a single person has been convicted of a sex-related crime.

The 3,000 plus victims, like Nancy Wanjiru, are still awaiting elusive justice. “With the exception of State House and the Prime Minister’s office, there is no door I have not knocked on in this town,” Wanjiru told the Sunday Nation. She has made several visits to Pangani police station to follow up on investigations into her case.

In 2010, a senior officer turned her away with a statement that has become a metaphor for the impunity in the post-election violence era and arguably the greatest stumbling block towards finding justice for victims. “He told me that the post-election violence was over and people had moved on to other things. I got very demoralised and thought of giving up. But I have just found myself waking up and paying more visits to people who might help me.” She said she has sought help from senior police officials and several human rights groups and non-governmental organisations. However, her case is yet to move forward.

In April, she paid a visit to police spokesman Eric Kiraithe accompanied by Mr Aloysius Njoroge Irubu of the St Teresa’s Peace Building Initiative, which has been working to bring peace in Mathare slums. Mr Kiraithe promised to follow up on the case, but she has heard nothing from him. Meanwhile, Nancy Wanjiru lives her live fearfully in the shadows of her tormentors. She says the officer who raped her has been using close family relatives to try to convince her to drop the matter.

In April, she said she ran into the officer at a public rally and an altercation ensued. “He grabbed me by the neck and told me to stop rejecting his overtures,” she said. Inquiries by the Sunday Nation established that the officer who allegedly raped Nancy Wanjiru is still in service at a police station in Embakasi constituency, Nairobi.

Nancy Wanjiru speaks for many victims of the violence when she says that the pursuit of justice has been frustratingly slow and fruitless. “Some time I think the whole justice thing is just unattainable.” Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said on Saturday that while he was not aware of Nancy Wanjiru Gachie’s case, police had done their best to investigate the complaints brought before them.

“What I have discovered is that there is a lot of witchhunt behind these allegations, but we have done our best to investigate nonetheless. We have even held identification parades in police stations, but most people failed to pinpoint their attackers,” he said. He said a number of people were prosecuted after the Waki task force completed its work although he could not give the exact figures at the time we called him because he was not in his office.

Commenting in In the Shadow of Death: My Trauma, my experience, a book documenting women’s experiences in the post-election violence, lawyer Moses Otsieno explains: “The Sexual Offences Act, though fundamental, has major weaknesses in the sense that it leaves out some key offences. It neither recognises that sexual abuses performed during a period of political chaos are genocidal or war crimes which, therefore, means that cases of this nature cannot be tried under this Act.”

Legal experts say various avenues of seeking redress will need to be explored to assist survivors of sexual violence, who hold scant evidence against their perpetrators. Mr Otsieno agrees: “The longer these cases take, the lesser the chances for justice to be done. With time, people forget details, memory fails, files and important documents may be misplaced.”

 

Read about the effects of colonialism on African women here

Man jailed for life for defiling his 9 year daughter

East African Standard online  1st August 2012

A father of ten has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Naivasha court after he was found guilty of defiling his nine-year-old daughter.

Moses Kamau Ndungiere, 47, was left tongue-tied after the ruling by Naivasha Principal Magistrate Esther Boke.

In her ruling, the magistrate termed the act as evil, adding that a deterrent sentence was needed to prevent such incidents.

According to the magistrate, medical reports adduced in court indicated that the minor had been sexually abused.

Kamau had been charged that on the September 27 and October 2, 2011, he defiled the minor in Mafuta Taa village in Mai Mahiu.

The accused, who was unrepresented faced an alternative charge of indecently assaulting the minor by touching her private parts.

Earlier, the girl told the court how her father arrived home armed with an axe and defiled her several times. The minor said that the father, who works in a quarry, threatened her with death if she told anybody about the incident.

In mitigation, the accused pleaded for leniency, saying he was the sole breadwinner of the family and his aged parents relied on him. He was given 14 days to appeal.

Tanzania: 42 Immigrants Suffocate in a Truck

Original Story Nation online 27th June 2012 here and  here

Forty-two immigrants were found dead in a truck in central Tanzania after suffocating, Deputy Interior Minister Pereira Silima said on Tuesday.

“They died of suffocation and had no food,” Silima said.

“There were more than 100 people in the truck,” a local administration official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“After he had learnt of the dead bodies, the driver abandoned the truck and ran away.”

The bodies were discovered in the truck in Dodoma province, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.

In December, 20 Somali immigrants were found dead in Tanzania.

Foreign ministry spokesman Isaac Nantanga said at the time that an increasing number of Ethiopians and Somalis were crossing the country to make their way to South Africa, the continent’s top economy.

Tanzanian police Wednesday were questioning 74 migrants who survived suffocation in a truck where 42 fellow travellers perished, Deputy Interior Minister Pereira Silima said.

“Police and immigration officials are questioning the survivors to establish their identity including names and nationality,” Silima told AFP.

It was initially reported the migrants were from Malawi, but officials said that they were suspected of coming from the Horn of Africa region to the north, and were on their way southwards to Malawi.

“Preliminary reports have it that the immigrants were destined to Malawi,” Silima said. Police said the truck driver fled the vehicle after finding the dead bodies.

The bodies were discovered on Tuesday in the truck in Dodoma province, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam.

In December, 20 Somali migrants were found dead in Tanzania.

Foreign ministry spokesman Isaac Nantanga said at the time that an increasing number of Ethiopians and Somalis were crossing the country to make their way to South Africa, the continent’s richest country.

Cruel Story of Human Trafficking of a Kenyan Girl in Lebanon

Video Source: KBC April 1st 2012

The young Victoria Wambui was trafficked to Lebanon last year in June. While there, she passed through horrendous experiences. Victoria’s mother  is suffering from stroke, hence when the chance appeared to get a job presented itself, Victoria embraced it with the hope that she will find resources to help her mother.

While in Lebanon, she was not paid for her first two months;  as this money was paid to the Lebanese agents. She had not been informed of this earlier. She was being beaten with heavy electric wires. Her legs as a result started swelling and oozing water. She was on various occasions denied food. At one time she was strangled until she passed out.

Well, what Victoria passed through was such inhuman. We just ask ourselves, which person would treat another person like this? For sure Middle East governments should act too against their own citizens who have little humanity in their hearts. On the other hand, where are the civil societies in these countries to speak for these “poor slaves“??

Painful: A New Born Baby Stolen

A woman lost her baby to good Samaritans. When she went to deliver she passed out forcing her to stay in the hospital for about three days. When she woke up she was given her baby boy. However she was not allowed to come out of the hospital because her bill had accumulated. Then out of nowhere, strangers appeared and called her name and told her that they usually help people with problems. They helped her to pay for the bill and carried her and her son in their car. Reaching town they bought her a cup of tea which had some sedatives. When she woke up she found herself in a strange place and her son and benefactors were nowhere to be seen. Now Evelyne is a sad woman she does not know where her baby has been taken to. The media in Kenya had in the past reported of a racket stealing children infact in one instance two people were found with 9 infants. Something should be done to protect young mothers such as Everlyne and the infants.

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