• Telling signs of abuse

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    With the increase of the number of cases of abuse it is very important to know and to identify signs of abuse. They are quite general and most of the times are not indicative of abuse. However, should you see someone showing the following signs, please find out what could be troubling them;

    1. The person has changed in terms of their behaviour. Victims of abuse will become secluded and start avoiding social gathering. This could be because they are either terrified of their abusers or they are ashamed about the fact that they are being abused. The victims could also start wearing heavy makeup or clothes to hide their face or their scars. Victims of emotional abuse may start doubting themselves or have low self-esteem, which may have not been present before.

    2. Victims of physical abuse usually have injuries which they themselves cannot explain or have weak excuses for. They at times become defensive, angry or emotional when they are probed further on what happened. They want people to know that everything is fine, but in reality they are afraid if people continue asking questions their abusers will blame them for not making up better excuses. Most of the times when the victims go to the hospital, they get asked by the nurses or doctors about what happened. However, they are usually accompanied by their abusers who want to make sure they do not report the abuse. When asked, the victims collaborate the abusers’ stories without question.

    3. The most important sign to watch out for is signs of control. Most abusers want to control their victims. When they feel they have no control they resort to physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The victims will most likely be on their phones calling and texting where they are and what they are doing to their abusers. This is in an effort to make sure the victims do not report the abuse they face. Whenever the victims are around the abuser, as stated above, they tend to keep quiet, are submissive or they agree with everything their abusers are saying. The victims will also be constantly asking for permission or approval from their abuser before they do anything, which may not have been the case before.

    If you ever get a chance to spot any of these signs, please do not assume that they mean the person is being abused or take matters into your own hands. Approach with caution, investigate and find out if really the person is being abused. Once you have established the person is being abused, make sure you report the matter to the relevant authorities. We all have a responsibility in addressing cases of abuse. Report it before it is too late.

    SASA! Initiative In order to identify and create awareness concerning abuse, violence on women and children, the Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW) uses the SASA! approach. SASA! is a Swahili word that means “Now” and it is an acronym for the four phases that are used to engage the community to build their capacity to prevent and respond to cases of abuse and violence.

    S – Start. This is the initial phase of the project where the community members are made aware that they have the power to stop cases of abuse.

    A – Awareness. The community is then informed about power and the fact that during abuse the perpetrators use power over the victims to make them submit to their control.

    S – Support. The community members are then trained that they can support the victims of abuse. They support by joining their ‘Power with Others’.

    A – Action. The community members are encouraged to take action and use their power to prevent abuse. (SASA! is a model developed by Raising Voices, Uganda)

    Report the cases to:

    The Healthcare Assistance Kenya Hotline 1195,

    Childline Kenya 116,

    The National Police Service Hotline 999, 112, 911

    COVAW 0722 594794 or 0733 594794 info@covaw.or.ke

    References Help Guide. Org. (2018) Domestic violence and abuse: Recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship and getting help. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm on 3rd October 2018

    Raising Voices (2018). SASA! is a ground-breaking community mobilization approach developed by Raising Voices for preventing violence against women and HIV. Retrieved from http://raisingvoices.org/sasa/ on 4th October 2018

    Very Well Mind. (2017). Top warning signs of domestic abuse. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-someone-is-being-abused-66535 on 3rd October 2018

    Written by Eugene Omondi, Communications and Social Media Intern

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  • Program Officer: Lobby, Advocacy and Communications. Kwale County

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW) is a Kenyan women’s rights organization, founded on human rights and feminist principles, that seeks to promote women’s rights. COVAW works towards a society free from all forms of violence against women and girls.

    Vacancy: Program Officer, Lobby Advocacy and Communications.

    Location: Kwale County Reporting to: Program Manager Contract: One year, with possibility of renewal Purpose: This position provides an opportunity to assist in addressing gender based violence through lobby and advocacy on child marriage, child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation and their linkage to economic empowerment in Kwale County.

    Duties and responsibilities include:

    • Work in conjunction with Program Manager to lead the integrated implementation of projects in Kwale County • Lead the planning and implementation of project activities at community, county and national level • Identify, support and work with all project beneficiaries and stakeholders in to meet the intended priority outcomes among the rights holders and duty bearers • Lead the engagement with communities to enhance their appreciation of GBV and their role in transforming practice of GBV and in protecting the most vulnerable girls • Lead and coordinate the engagement with civil society organisations to enhance their capacity to conduct coordinated lobby and advocacy • Lead the engagement with county government on their role in addressing GBV and economic empowerment, with a focus on legislation and policies and existing gaps. • Identify private sector players and engage them on their role in addressing GBV and economic empowerment and protecting vulnerable girls and young women from violations • Identify and develop linkages and networks at community, county and national level with a view to strengthening the effectiveness of local actors. • Design and conduct community, national, mainstream and social media campaigns towards achieving project goals • Design and produce content for use in training materials, information packs, information, education and communication materials to support lobby and advocacy activities • Support research to generate knowledge on the project focus areas. • Identify knowledge and capacity gaps among project beneficiaries and support capacity building initiatives to address these gaps through dialogue, training, round tables and other innovative approaches. • Develop and implement project work plans and monitoring tools to guide accurate implementation of project objectives and organisational strategic goals • Maintain up to date documentation of all project activities and expenditures • Prepare accurate and timely reports of all program activities and of all financial expenditures reports in accordance with donor requirements and COVAW policy. • Manage project budgets in adherence to donor and COVAW rules and policies • Provide line management to program staff in the program • Represent COVAW in meetings and forums with partners and other stakeholders • Demonstrate a strong commitment to COVAW’s values and principles • Flexibility and willingness to travel, work long and irregular hours, including on weekends and holidays • Undertake full operational responsibility over COVAW’s assets in use.

    Performance standards

    • Adherence to human rights and feminist principles and organisational policies, in particular child protection • Adherence to organisational and project timelines and deadlines • Outputs and outcomes of the projects achieved and accurately documented • Activities implemented as planned and within allocated resources • Accurate, timely and comprehensive documentation of daily activities and periodic reports • Project funds utilized in cost effective manner that demonstrates value for money and fully accounted for in line with donor rules and organisational policies • Display innovativeness and creativity in implementation of program • Enhancing team work and mutual respect between colleagues, project partners and beneficiaries

    Required qualifications and competencies

     Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Community Development, law or related social science  Five years work experience in managing a project, in community engagement and mobilization  Experience in managing project budgets and finances  Experience in managing a team  Ability to work with diverse people and cultures  Ability to work independently but able to consult effectively, to prioritize and handle multiple tasks simultaneously; to work in the field, under pressure and to tight deadlines.  Computer Literacy (including excel skills).

    The successful candidate must also demonstrate COVAW values as follows: Integrity, Dignity, Courage, Commitment and Solidarity.

    To express interest in this position, send your application and cover letter marked “Program Officer, Lobby Advocacy and Communications” indicating current and expected salary by 14th September 2018 to recruit@covaw.or.ke.

    CVs will be reviewed as they are received. COVAW encourages, promotes and supports diversity in all aspects of its work.

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  • Welcome Our New Executive Director

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    Wairimu Munyinyi-Wahome is an advocacy and policy specialist, with over 16 years of international experience, including in Namibia, Somaliland, Sierra Leone and, more recently in Kenya. In these countries, Wairimu has served in various roles including Advocacy Advisor, Mainstreaming Coordinator with Concern Worldwide, Country Advocacy Manager with Oxfam where she also briefly served as an Acting Country Director. In Kenya, Wairimu has served with the Norwegian Refugee Council as the Regional Advocacy, Protection and Communications Advisor for Eastern and Horn of Africa and Yemen. She served with Oxfam in Kenya as the Programmes Director.

    Wairimu is passionate about gender and development issues and is keen to see that laws and policies in development accord women and girls their rightful place in the mainstream agenda and that their rights are secured and respected as they pursue their potential as equal citizens. Wairimu believes strongly that for African countries to move to the next frontier of development, they must firmly embed the rights of women and girls in their interventions, by ensuring that they are protected and safe to contribute to development processes in their personal and public spaces.

    Wairimu holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, an Honors Degree in Development Studies from the University of South Africa and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management from the Strathmore Business School. Wairimu is a proud alumnus of Loreto High School, Limuru.

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  • Violence against women and girls should not be business as usual

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    It is very heart-breaking to realize that violence against women and children is becoming a recurring trend in Kenya. Every day in the dailies and in the news there is that one report about violence meted out on a woman or a child.

    On Thursday, 14th June 2018, Doreen, a student of Nairobi Institute of Business studies was pushed out of a bus for asking the conductor to stop the bus after it had passed her stage. She fell hard and died from the impact. This is one story that was reported. What about the other cases that are kept silent? The victims are afraid that they will face stigmatization and isolation from the society. This is because there are past reports where the victims were told,

    “Are you sure it was rape?” “What were you doing to find yourself in that situation?” “You were the one asking for it.” “You antagonized him. You needed to be taught a lesson.” “These things happen.” “What were you doing walking at night?” “It was because of your dressing.” “Don’t report it otherwise you will be hurt or killed.” “If you report it, it will break up our family.” “Think about the consequences and the shame you will bring to our family.” “Men are like that.”

    This destroys the victims’ psyche and they feel as if it was their fault for the violence that they faced. It is also made worse for the fact that they may not know they have rights, or they may know their rights, but are not empowered to report or stand up for themselves.

    It is time for us as a society to break the silence. We are all responsible for breaking the cycle of violence. These are our wives, mothers, daughters, aunties, nieces, grandmothers, and friends. We need to protect them. It is up to us to report when we see cases of violence and support the victims. If we do not, someday it will affect us directly, and we will have regrets of our inaction.

    Be a champion today. Stop the violence. Break the silence.

    Written by Eugene Omondi, Communications and Social Media Intern

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  • The Day of The African Child

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    On the 16th of June 2018, COVAW and the National Council for Children’s Services will commemorate the Day of the African Child in Menzamwenye, Lunga Lunga Sub-County, Kwale County.

    This year’s theme is ‘Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development’.

    We are going to talk on issues about FGM/C, SGBV, Child Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation.

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  • Ignored by State at Home, Feted by the World Abroad

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    By L. Muthoni Wanyeki

    Enough has been said about what the national honours given out on Jamhouri Day were meant to signify. The state has lost sight of the purpose that such honours are meant to serve.

    To remind us of the value of living up to and advancing the best part of ourselves. To record for the historical record those who’ve had the courage and integrity to do so. And, in so doing, to contribute to the on-going process of creating history.

    For it is no longer true that history is only written by the winners. History is also increasingly contested. With the ‘losers’ increasingly inserting themselves into the story. The complex, multifaceted and true story of the many actors and organisations that led to our independence, for example. The equally complex, multifaceted and true story of the many actors and organisations that brought us our second liberation—symbolised by the achievement, in the end, of our Constitution of 2010.

    Not to mention the pain of those whose stories were captured in the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission. Which, although still unrealised, was the product of the many Kenyans and Kenyan organisations who continue to believe our history must record what not only the colonial state, but also the post-colonial state, has done to us.

    However farcical and tragic our national honours have become, time will vindicate those Kenyans and Kenyan organisations. Time always does.

    Away from here, however, at least some of those Kenyans and Kenyan organisations have received the recognition they are due. That recognition is not for them alone—it is for all those in whose name they work. In this case, the many (many, many) survivors of sexual violence in times of conflict.

    On December 7, during this year’s annual Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court, the global Gender Justice Legacy Wall was launched. The ‘bricks’ of this wall included no less than 151 individuals and organisations from around the world who have worked to find restitution for women (and men) who are so violated during times of conflict.

    From the women involved in negotiations of the Rome Statute, who sought to ensure that sexual violence would be understood as part of all three (now four) international crimes—crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes (as well as, as of this ASP, the crime of aggression). Here we have ‘bricks’ for Kenyan advocates Betty Kaari Murungi, currently with the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee for South Sudan, and Binaifer Nowrojee, currently Asia Director with the Open Society Foundations. Hongera Betty, hongera Binaifer.

    To the women who have served as investigators, prosecutors, judges in the international criminal tribunals as well as the ICC. Here we have ‘bricks’ for Kenyans Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch, currently completing her term as a judge with the ICC as well as our former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. Hongera Lady Justice, hongera our former CJ.

    To the women’s rights organisations who are the first to provide services to survivors of sexual violence during conflict—post-rape care and on-going counselling. Who collect their stories and advocate on their behalf. Here we find a ‘brick’ for the Kenyan Coalition on Violence against Women, which is still before the Kenyan courts seeking justice for survivors of sexual violence from 2007-8. Hongera COVAW.

    Most importantly, the wall honours the brave survivors who have testified before these tribunals and the ICC—the risks they have taken in doing so recognised by the fact that, on this wall, their ‘bricks’ are represented by their witness numbers only.

    These Kenyans are in the company, on this wall, of no less than three former United Nations High Commissioners for Human Rights—Canadian Louise Arbour, Irishwoman Mary Robinson and South African Navi Pillay—who also served as an ICC judge after serving on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. They are in the company of current ICC Prosecutor, Gambian Fatou Bensouda. They are in the company of South African Yasmin Sooka, who served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions for both Sierra Leone and South Africa.

    They are in the company of Congolese physician Denis Mukwege, who opened up Panzi Hospital in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to help treat survivors of the sexual violence there. And they are in the company of those brave Argentinian women who stood up to the Argentinian dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, demanding the return of all the ‘disappeared.’

    The company we keep tells us so much. The company in which these Kenyans find themselves reminds us of the purpose of honours—to live up to and advance the best part of ourselves, to place into the historical record those who’ve had the courage and integrity to do so and, in so doing, to create a history that speaks to the protection of the weakest amongst us. Hongera Betty, Binaifer, Lady Justice Aluoch, former CJ Mutunga and COVAW. Our state doesn’t recognise you. But the world does. And we do.

    L. Muthoni Wanyeki, PhD is Africa Director with the Open Society Foundations (OSF) network based in London. This column is written in her personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views of OSF.

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  • Gender Desk Launch at Archers Post Police Station: 26th June 2014 Speech

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , No Comments

    It is with great pleasure that i stand here before you as we celebrate the opening of the gender desk at archers post police station. I feel proud that as we mark this mile stone on our endeavour to make Samburu county a place safe for women, girls, men and boys, we can say that we have a gender desk where victims of gender based violence will not only be able to report cases of violence without victimisation or discrimination, but also a place they can call a safe space for reporting symptomatic problems they might be experiencing.

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  • Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

    Author: covaw Category: Articles , 1 Comment

    The Foreign Secretary of Britain, William Hague and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, co-hosted the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict on June 10-13, 2014 in London.This was the largest gathering ever brought together on the subject, with a view to creating irreversible momentum against sexual violence in conflict and practical action that impacts those on the ground.The summit is a follow-up to the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict launched in 2013 to end impunity, increase accountability, and provide justice and safety for victims of sexual violence. One of the outcomes of the summit is to be the first international protocol on how to document and investigate sexual violence in conflicts, which will set international standards and give guidance to countries on effective laws and prosecutions.Angelina Jolie, commented, “The use of rape as a weapon is one of the greatest injustices of our time.”  It destroys women, families, communities and cultures. The rape of civilians during times of war is nothing new. However, in recent decades the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war has come to the attention of the international community.

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  • Sexual and Gender Based Violence Petition adjourned to 25th March 2014

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    Petition No.122 of 2013 came up for hearing on 22nd January 2014 at The Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court. The matter was before Justice Lenaola.Despite this petition having been filed on 20th February 2013, the government and state agencies who are respondents had continuously failed to respond. It was only yesterday during the court proceedings that both the Attorney General and the Police filed their Replying Affidavits.

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    What is this case about? A group of individuals and civil society organizations are filing a petition in the Constitutional and Human Rights Division of the High Court of Kenya seeking to compel the Government of Kenya to address the SGBV that occurred during the 2007/2008 post-election violence. The petitioners claim that the government failed to properly train and prepare police to protect civilians from sexual violence while it was occurring. In its aftermath, the police refused to document and investigate claims of SGBV, leading to obstruction and miscarriage of justice. Furthermore, the government denied emergency medical services to victims at the time, and failed to provide necessary care and compensation to address their suffering and harm. Ultimately, the petitioners want the government to publicly acknowledge and apologize to the victims for their failure to protect the rights of Kenyans; to provide appropriate compensation, including psycho-social, medical, and legal assistance to the victims; to investigate the sexual violence and prosecute those who are responsible; and to establish a special team with some international staff within the Department of Public Prosecutions to ensure that such investigations and prosecutions are credible and independent. What type of case is this? It is a constitutional case. As such, it seeks to establish that the Government of Kenya violated the repealed and current Constitution, as well as international treaties to which Kenya is a party and international norms. It is not a criminal case seeking criminal penalties against the government officials who failed in their duties. However, the petition does ask the court to find that the post-election sexual violence rises to the level of crimes against humanity and that, as a result of that finding, the government was and is obligated to investigate these international crimes and prosecute them wherever the evidence permits.  What was the nature of the sexual violence described in the petition? Perpetrators targeted women and girls, in particular, for sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, defilement, gang rape, forced pregnancy, deliberate transmission of HIV or any other life threatening sexually transmitted disease, sexual assault, and other indecent acts. While the vast majority of sexual crimes were committed against women and girls, men, too, were subjected to SGBV including forcible circumcision, sodomy, and penile amputations.

    Who committed it? State actors and non-state actors targeted women and girls, in particular, for sexual violence. State actors consisted of members of the Kenya Police Service, Administrative Police, General Service Unit, and other state security agents, collectively referred to as “police.” However, non-state actors also perpetrated SGBV, including ordinary citizens and members of organized gangs and outlaws groups. 

    When and where did the SGBV happen? In the period following the announcement of election results on December 30, 2007, until March 2008, the petitioners and many others suffered SGBV. The petitioners in this case experienced SGBV in Kibera, Kericho and Naivasha. Who is bringing the case? Eight individuals, survivors of SGBV, and four Kenyan NGOs that assist victims and promote human rights, have come together to file the petition. Among the individual petitioners are six women and two men. Who is this case against? The petitioners are holding responsible the following officials: The Attorney General, The Director of Public Prosecutions, The Independent Policing Oversight Authority Chairperson, The Inspector-General of the National Police Service The Minister for Medical Services, The Minister for Public Health and Sanitation What, exactly, are the petitioners claiming? The petitioners are claiming that the Government of Kenya failed them, and the Kenyan people, in the following ways:

    By failing to take appropriate measures to prevent the SGBV following the 2007 elections, including failing to train police forces, and to plan and prepare proper policing policy, operations, and command structure By tolerating the SGBV and failing to discipline and supervise those police involved in SGBV By failing to protect victims from SGBV perpetrated by non-state actors, and by failing to intervene when either state or non-state actors committed SGBV By failing to provide emergency medical services to victims of SGBV By refusing to mount prompt, independent, impartial, effective, and public investigations of unlawful acts by the police By failing to redress the serious human rights violations committed by police during the post-election violence through compensation, restitution, medical and psychosocial services, public apologies, and other reparations to the survivors and victims’ families. What law do the petitioners say that the government violated? The petitioners claim that certain Kenyan laws and both the repealed and the new Constitution of Kenya, read in conjunction with international treaties to which Kenya is a party, create legal obligations that the Government of Kenya has failed to meet. In particular, the laws violated, through the government’s action or inaction, include:

    The Kenyan Constitution, both repealed and present, which included or includes the right to life, the prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, the right to a remedy, the right to security of the person, and the right to effective remedy, among other provisions; Kenyan laws including the Police Act, the Criminal Procedure Code, the International Crimes Act, and various other acts governing the police and policing, among others; International treaties to which Kenya is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, the Convention on the Elimination on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the Treaty of the East African Community. How has the Kenyan government failed in its legal obligations? The laws listed above require the Kenyan government, including its various relevant bodies such as the police, the Attorney General, the DPP, and others, to take a wide range of action to protect the Kenyan people from SGBV by taking appropriate preventative action (including, for example, police training and oversight) and ameliorative action in case SGBV occurs nonetheless. The government failed both to take all necessary measures to prevent the police and other non-state actors from committing acts of sexual violence and, once those occurred, to properly investigate and prosecute offenders. Finally, the SGBV targeted a large number of civilian victims and amounted to crimes against humanity. Under both national and international law, the Kenyan government has an absolutely duty to investigate and prosecute such crimes, and utterly failed to do so. Why did the petitioners have to bring this case? Despite repeated private requests and public calls, both domestic and international, for investigations and prosecutions of police and non-state actors committing SGBV against civilians during the election-related violence, the Government of Kenya has failed to launch credible, timely, and impartial investigations. Consequently, the petitioners and other Kenyans who suffered SGBV during the post-election period have been unable to obtain justice.

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