“Amekuja, sasa kama amekuja, hakuna njia ingine…”, this is the statement Michael Odhiambo heard at Korogocho police station when he went to follow up on a defilement case of a 15 year old girl who had been repeatedly defiled by a 25 year old perpetrator for quite some time. As I write, the 15 year old girl who is a form 3 student at a local school has to carry the pregnancy to term amidst the challenges and hardships within the informal settlement of Korogocho.
What brought my attention to this story is the threat that Michael is facing at the community level from a local church that is pressing for an out of court settlement of the case because the young man is a youth leader at the community level and in the church. Michael says he received the report of this monstrous act on 6th of August this year at the community justice, when the family of the girl came to report the matter in the interest of seeking medical advice and access to justice for the girl. The medical report conducted at a local clinic showed that the girl is already 4 months pregnant and this was a clear evidence that led to the arrest of the perpetrator who was put in remand for one month but later released on a cash bail of Kshs.100,000 as the case is going on.
These are some of the threats that human rights defenders like Michael face every day as they try to assist client’s access justice. As we talk about pulling efforts and working together to end all forms of violence against women and girls, it is important that we note the role that each actor plays in the process and how all actors are responding to the needs that arise everyday in the community. The reality towards this end is that, many actors tend to forget what is rightfully expected of them from a human rights based approach especially when they are directly linked to or associated to the perpetrator. “Compromising”- (giving bribes) to duty bearers by the perpetrators family is a also a big issue especially on sexual gender based violence cases that get reported at the chiefs offices and police stations located within the informal settlements and rural villages.
As we look forward to mark the 16 days of activism (November 25th to December 10th) against gender based violence campaign, lets pull effort together in reaching out to all actors from the grassroots to the national levels to be aware of and become responsive in handling gender based violence issues from a human rights based approach as well as assist in the process of facilitating justice where it deserved. “Let us Act Now!”
By Faith Ochieng’
Program Officer, AGCP
Kituo Cha Sheria.