The practice of Female Genital Mutilation is widely condemned in Kenya. The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (No.32 of 2011), is an Act of parliament. The Act protects individuals from mental and physical violence as a result of Female Genital Mutilation. There is need to utilize a paradigm shift which leads these communities that are still practicing, to understand that FGM is not the only way to embracing African culture. There is no disproportion between the life of girl and boy child is society. Both genders deserve a chance to exercise their rights and freedoms without subject to any discrimination. To achieve this transformative cultural change, partners and stakeholders need to ensure dissemination of information on the effects of female genital mutilation.
Although matters regarding culture require community willingness and decision to achieve sustainable change, all community interventions requires a strategic approach in order to address any challenge at the local level. To achieve this, community members and gatekeepers should be sensitized and their capacity build to ensure that they spearhead the process of enlightening other local members of the community.
In eradication of female genital mutilation, FIDA Kenya through the support of GOK/UNFPA 8th country programme, has continued to engage police, Chiefs, Nyumba Kumi and county commissioners in West Pokot, Narok, Elgeyo Marakwet, Samburu and Baringo. The trainings are meant to empower the officers with information on how to handle sexual gender based violence (SGBV) cases with an objective to improve advocacy, prevention, reporting and referral of SGBV cases, increase access to accurate and appropriate information services on sexual reproductive health rights and lobby for gender responsive accountability.
One of the prevailing outcomes after the trainings for instance in Baringo is the increased awareness on GBV and FGM which has been implemented in Baringo South, Baringo North, Tiaty and Edama Ravine. Mapping of hotspots was conducted and 16 regions were identified as hotspots among them; Marigat, Ichamus, Mukutani, Churo Amaya, Tangubei, Kolowa, Tirioko, Silale, Mogotio, Kisanana, Emining, Bawesa, Bartabwa, Saimo, Kipsaramani, and Mochongoi and as a result 30 GBV networks were formed in these areas. The networks will address SGBV cases and refer them to FIDA Kenya.
In Narok County the law enforcement officers acknowledge to have done sensitizations as per the work plans they developed during the training. In Entontil area the law enforcement officers have continued to create awareness on female genital mutilation, gender based violence, Children’s Act, women’s rights and children’s rights and reached out to a total of 150 women and 400 youth. 17 cases of school drop outs were reported and action taken while 4 cases of custody of children are in court. The law enforcement officers have also created awareness on effects of FGM and women/ girls rights in 8 primary schools.
In Ngong area Kajiado County there has been good progress and strides shown by the stakeholders with the knowledge gained from FIDA Kenya trainings on female genital mutilation and child early forced marriage. They have had sustained conversations around violence against women and girls (VAWG) and their collective efforts in addressing the problem. Through multi-agency cooperation, the fight against FGM and early child marriage has yielded results with several girls being rescued. For example, Ms. Resian was rescued by one of the pastors trained by FIDA, and readmitted to school. In collaboration with the County Commissioner’s office and the Constituency Development Fund, the pastor has secured bursary funding for Ms. Resian and other two (2) girls who have been rescued from early marriage and also arrested 3 perpetrators of VAWG. However this has not been without its share of challenges. Concerns have been raised that sometimes even after reporting assault cases, some women still do not want their husbands arrested or jailed. An incident was reported where a woman had to beg the police to have her husband released after spending a night in the cell.
On conducting awareness forums on FGM, FIDA Kenya has employed the strategy of networking with trained members from the target groups and likeminded institutions to create awareness on violence against women and girls. The knowledge gained from the trainings is utilized by informing the larger public on the effects of sexual gender based violence. Through the skills gained by the beneficiaries they have been able to set community sanctions on people who perpetrate or don’t report violence. For instance the approach has been adopted in Kajiado County.
CBOs STEPPING UP TO HELP ASSIST WOMEN AND GIRLS
Community Based Organizations play a critical role in transforming lives at the grassroots level. These organizations are often non-profit organizations founded to mobilize and to provide support to local communities. They help bridge the gap between the literate and illiterate, the rich and the poor through their social services which are integrated, people centered and participatory. Community Based Organizations also provide opportunity to influence decision making on the issues affecting the rural communities by allowing participation from different social categories such as women, youth and elders.
Since 2013, FIDA Kenya has been working with Community Based Organizations to provide legal aid services to indigent women. The legal aid partnership scheme involves the local screening and counseling of clients, legal advice and referrals. Through this partnership FIDA Kenya has provided legal aid and counseling to over 2,000 women and girls in 20 counties. FIDA Kenya has also leveraged on the CBO networks to escalate advocacy for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. In-turn the paralegals have benefitted from continuous trainings on the law to aid their work.
In 2016, Stephen Ogutu,a paralegal working for Persons with Disability Network, was recognized during the devolution conference as a devolution warrior. Mr. Ogutu although physically challenged has been very resourceful in providing legal aid to local women in Nakuru County. Mr. Ogutu occasionally accompanies women seeking legal support to FIDA Kenya offices. Mr. Ogutu’s story mirrors the work of the other FIDA champions who serve local communities as paralegals spread within community based organizations in the 20 focus counties. The dedication of the paralegals demonstrates the need for sustainable partnership with CBO`s to realize the full enjoyment of women’s rights at all levels including the grassroots level.
THE FUTURE OF JUSTICE IN KENYA
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), though informally, may be considered as an ancient concept in the adversarial Kenyan legal system dating back to the pre-colonial era. This is premised on the fact that African Communities through their religious as well as customary structures embraced reconciliation as opposed to the lengthy and combative court system in resolving their disputes. Notably prior to the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 there was no comprehensive legal framework governing the application of ADR in dispute resolution. However with the advent of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 the concept is steadily being incorporated by the Judiciary as a starting point in resolving all civil disputes.
At the International scene for instance the United Nations Commission for International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has adopted a model law on international commercial conciliation in the spirit of promoting ADR. In the same spirit ,Article 159 (2) (c)of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides that in exercising Judicial authority courts and tribunals shall be guided by the principle of promoting ADR as well as Traditional Dispute Resolution Mechanism (TDRM). Article 159 (3) stipulates that the TDRM shall not be used in a manner that contravenes the Bill of Rights, is repugnant to justice and morality or inconsistent with the Constitution and other written laws.
Article 189 as well embraces ADR as a form of resolving intergovernmental disputes in the spirit of fostering good relationship between National and County Governments. The Civil Procedure Act as well provides for the overriding objective being at the center of resolving civil matters as well as embracing ADR. The Judiciary has recently piloted the Court Annexed Mediation within the High Courts in the Commercial and Family Division in Nairobi in the spirit of promoting ADR even as the Task Force on Informal Justice System formulates an appropriate judicial policy on Alternative Justice Systems (AJS).
FIDA Kenya‘s flagship Access to Justice Programme in the bid to facilitate expeditious disposal of cases as well as promote reconciliation of parties has over the years embraced mediation as a form of ADR. With a success rate of over 70% both internal and external mediators have tirelessly embraced the nonaligned third party role to the benefit of thousands of parties.
We therefore proudly say aluta continua!!!!!!
PROMOTING ACCESS TO JUSTICE
FIDA Kenya continues to provide legal aid services to women in Kenya towards the realization of their social, economic, political and cultural rights. FIDA Kenya continues to receive new clients daily in search of legal aid against other individuals and/or relevant public or private institutions. During this period FIDA Kenya received a total of 1649 clients. Below is a table showing the clients who attended to the legal aid clinics during the months of June- July 2017.
|Total client attendances||883||332||434||1649|
|New client attendances||292||102||73||467|
|Subsequent clients (appointments)||591||230||361||1182|