Case Study

Sexual and Gender Based Violence

“If an old man marries a very young virgin girl and cannot penetrate her, then he calls the young men in his neighbourhood to sleep with you as the others hold your legs apart in the name of making a way for him. The husband is then asked to get inside before the path closes again. The other women in the neighbourhood are asked not to intervene, even if the girl screams, as it is just men making way for one of their own. In most cases the other women have also gone through the same so they do not take the issue seriously. ”

FGD participant – female

“During FGM ceremonies, the girls are expected to be very brave. The girl’s father stands strategically in front of his daughter with a bow and arrow. If the girl shakes or closes her eyes as an indication of pain, then the father releases the arrow, killing his own daughter. They say there is no place for a cowardly daughter in Pokot. She is a shame to the community.
The process itself is so severe. It involves an excision of the clitoris together with total excision of the labia minora and then tie the girls legs together so that even urinating is a problem. If you happen to get your menstrual flow, they cut you up to remove the blood clot. To urinate, one needs to climb a tree so that the urine can flow backwards.”
FGD participant- Female

“If a very young woman is married by an old man and he cannot easily penetrate, a problem that is highly contributed by FGM, he calls her co-wives or mother-in-law to assist him open up his way in. The women get a cow’s horn, apply some oil, and then push it in until the girls opening expands. It is a very painful process but that is what culture dictates. If the horn works, then the man is called immediately to penetrate before it closes again. If that process does not work, then they cut her open and ask the man to penetrate before the blood clots blocking the entrance, and the pain of the cut is too much to bare .”
Female FGD participant.

Defilement is a serious problem in this area. In July this year in Nyamache district, a man tried to defile his 12-year old niece. The wife of the man had gone for delivery at Nyacheki health centre. The girl and her younger sister had gone to spend the night at her grandmother’s which was not far from the man’s house. That night, the man kicked down the window of the hut where the girls were sleeping. He managed to get in grabbed the neck of the girls and asked her not to make a sound. But the younger sister screamed and made so much noise that the man left. With the evidence of the scratches that were on the girl’s neck and the account of the two sisters, the mother decided to take legal action. She was concerned because it was not the first defilement attempt. Her brothers-in-law threatened to send her away. I advised her to go to a police station to register the case which she did. There are still threats against her and I have advised her to go to the children’s office for further assistance.”
Key informant- Nyamira

“We have in Butula a grandmother who is 24 years old. This is the result of early pregnancies. Sadly, the circle continues. A mother gives birth at a young age, the same applies to the child and the circle continues, leading to very young families. The worst part is that the community thinks that this is very normal and no one finds it a big deal.”
Key informant – female

“In many cases, before a woman is employed, she has to fulfil the boss’ sexual desire. Even after accepting to sleep with the employer, if another girl comes seeking employment and she falls in the same trap, you lose the job for her and the circle continues. It does not matter whether you are qualified or not.”
FGD participant – female

Women participation in leadership processes

“A woman has to tell a man in the council of elders her issues so that the man can now go and represent her before the rest of the elders. The man in most cases has no interests in the case so he does not care what the outcome will be. Therefore women have no access to justice and in most cases opt to be silent about their problems.”
FGD participant – male

“If we could have women in positions to handle cases of wife battery, they would understand the plight of the other women. Addressing such issues would be easy.” FGD participant –female, Nyamira.

“Sisi hatuoni hiyo serikali. Iko wapi? Kwa wazee, kwa polisi, kwa chifu, lazima utoe kitu kidogo ndio usaidike.” (We have not seen that government. Where is it? The clan elder; the police, the chief, all require you to pay something for you to receive their services.)
FGD participant –female

“Many women in Narok do not even know that they have a right to keep their own ID cards. Where an ID is required, they have to be accompanied by their husbands, use it and then return it to their husbands.”
FGD participant – female
“Most of the cases that land at the Chief’s office will not easily end up in court as the Chief will try settling the matter out of court so as to save the marriage.”
FGD participant – male

Roselyne’s story

“Roselyne, a beneficiary of FIDA Kenya’s women leadership interventions, was the most popular candidate in her Constituency but on March 4th, 2013, the election day, she woke up to find herself in hospital.Details of what led her there remaining scanty in her mind.

She was one of the most promising candidates who had benefited from an intensive capacity building exercise and technical support from FIDA Kenya that saw her rise above all the other candidates – all men- in her constituency.

Her story depicts the electoral violence and non-tolerance of women candidates in Kenya.

‘I lost everything in my campaigns and I still don’t understand what went wrong,’ an emotional but firm Roseline said.

However, this is not a unique case, but the story of several other women in Kenya who in their quest to attain equitable representation of women in political leadership, often end up as Roselyne, in hospital or for some even dead.

Although the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides for equal opportunities and participation in democratic processes for both men and women, with not more than 2/3rds of either gender represented in all elective and appointive positions, the achievement of this principle has been marred by challenges both in the legislative and cultural contexts.

Not to lose hope though, the Supreme Court ruling on the 2/3rds case gave a timeline to the realization of a legal mechanism to facilitate achievement of the principle by August 2015. This gives hope to women like Roselyne who despite all challenges still hold a vision to bring about political revolution in their Constituencies by becoming the first females elected to the seat.

‘….I know that in 2017, I will still make it and I will vie….it is a painful experience for women, but we will soldier on….,’a more confident and optimistic Roselyne concludes.

Anastasia Mutuku

“Anastasia Mutuku, a County Assembly Representative is one of the success stories of FIDA Kenya efforts towards realization of women’s equitable participation and representation in political processes. She is one of the beneficiaries of an intensive Women’s leadership campaign by FIDA Kenya that saw 300 women trained on various aspects in the electoral process including the role of women in leadership, legal and ethical provisions on leadership in Kenya, Media relations, campaign financing and how women can build synergy in electoral processes.

This engagement with FIDA Kenya saw Anastasia clinch the County assembly seat in Machakos County having overcome cultural barriers to beat 10 other candidates all of whom were men.

‘ FIDA brought me from far, as a woman, I faced many challenges, I was even violated to deter me from pursuing my political ambition…..but I still beat 10 men to clinch the seat’

Political participation of women in Kenya is mainly deterred by lack of finances, cultural intolerance of women candidates, and violence.

This therefore necessitates the need for better strategies and programmes to enhance protection of women candidates while enhancing their engagement with political processes. Violence remains a cross-cutting element in political processes with women candidates bearing the brunt of the violence. It is often used as a tool to ‘tame’ women leaders in the pretence of enforcing cultural norms that emphasize the place of women in domestic quarters and not in the leadership arena.

‘Women face a lot of challenges as men do not believe that women can be leaders’

FIDA Kenya therefore re-organized its strategies to include a rapid response mechanism in the form of an SMS hotline that sought to ease reporting of violence incidents targeting women candidates and voters across Kenya with over 500 cases reported. Despite this huge number, response from security organs and the electoral body was slow coming with women such as Anastasia having to wait for days for police intervention.

FIDA therefore seeks to go beyond this to establish a rapid response fund by the next election to warn, rescue and legally support women candidates in potential situations of conflict/ violence towards enhancing protection of women from violence.

‘I feel proud to be a beneficiary of FIDA….FIDA should soldier on with its work as they are our mother and father and we look towards them for direction and support. I therefore request donors to continue to support FIDA work as they are making a huge difference in the lives of women like me.’

Immaculate’s story

‘In 2017, I want to be a Member of Parliament, not a county representative.’

That was the voice ofHon. Immaculate Muasya, County Assembly representative, Nairobi and former Gender Secretary of ODM political party.

Immaculate’s journey to politics started with her engagement with her former employer, ODM party where on assessment of the political position of women in Kenya, decided to stand up and be counted as the first batch of women leaders to vie for elective positions under the new constitutional order.

Her encounter with FIDA Kenya ensured that she benefitted from the much needed capacity building and publicity that propelled her to her current position. She was among the 8 women candidates elected into the Nairobi county assembly.

‘FIDA Kenya put my name in the newspapers and gave me opportunities to share my manifesto with my supporters on radio and I will be forever grateful for that as it really publicized me.’

However, the real leadership journey starts now with many women barely knowledgeable of the contents of the County assembly standing orders which one has to know to effectively engage in debates.

‘We have a problem engaging in the assembly debates because most of us do not know the standing order content and therefore mostly out of order. This makes many women feel embarrassed talking in the assembly’

FIDA Kenya has simplified the standing orders and developed a fact sheet on the legislative duties of county assembly representatives and women representatives. This has served to enhance the engagement of women leaders like Immaculate in constructive debates in county assembly with our officers at hand to assist with any technical issues that arise in the understanding of these documents.

However, further education and capacity development should be done with women leaders as most particularly in the county assembly do not understand their role and responsibilities and the legislative processes as enshrined in the Constitution, 2010.

Women should be educated on the standing orders in the counties to ensure that they effectively engage.

Marital violence

“A man will work and drink all the income he earns. Then when he comes home, he demands to find meat. If there is none he will hit his wife. If he finds meat, he will eat then hit the wife, demanding to know where the meat came from.”
FGD participant – female

“Mwanaume wa Kiduruma hawezi tandika kitanda wala kuingia jikoni, hata kama bibi ni mjamzito. Hata ukizaa leo, lazima ulete dadako akupikie. (A Duruma man cannot spread his bed nor cook even if the wife is pregnant. Even if you gave birth today, you would have to call your sister to come cook and take care of you.”
FGD participant – female

“A Maasai man will keep the counts of all the mistakes you do then one day on your way home either from fetching water or firewood, he will wait for you on the way and cane you with the eshivishivi (a willowy cane that does not break easily).”

FGD participant – male

“A lady was beaten by her husband until her uterus came out. When she fled back to her parent’s home they asked her to go back to her husband. …..
FGD participant- female

Sexual and Reproductive health rights

“When I was delivering, the nurses poked my child’s head while still in the tummy as a result, my child died. Since then I only go to private hospitals where the services are professional and effective.” FGD participant –female

“The nurses are very unprofessional. One day I went for the pregnancy clinics for a check-up. The nurse found out that I had been circumcised and yelled, calling the rest to come and see. She shouted that I might never deliver normally. I was so annoyed. I yelled back at her and told her that this was my third child, and that I no longer needed the check up.”
FGD participant- female

A Maasai girl should not get pregnant before she is circumcised. But once one is circumcised, she is given the freedom to engage in sexual activities. This is because men cannot marry an uncircumcised girl so when you conceive after circumcision, then the man responsible can then marry you. Maasai men avoid marrying uncircumcised girls. ”
Female FGD participant.

“……Circumcised women suffer from the formation of the keliod scar, cysts and abscesses. Once their husbands notice that they have some growth in their private parts, they marry another wife. The women are left to suffer since in their culture, one is not allowed to discuss such issues. Most of them never go to the hospitals and if the growths burst and get infected, they can cancerous or otherwise fatal.”
FGD participant – female

Women Land and Property Rights

“Nilimalizana na msichana wangu wakati nilipewa mahari yake. Vijana ndio wanabaki nyumbani kuchunga mali ya familia. (I was completely done with my daughter once she was married. It is the boys that are left home to take care of family property).”
Male FGD participant.

“Whatever decision the council of elders makes is adhered to strictly because there is a belief that if one did not follow their orders, and then they will be cursed. If they choose who will inherit a widow and she refuses, then she is expected to either become mad or stop bearing children.”
Female FGD participant.

“Reporting a case of disinheritance is like jumping from hot soup to the fire. You will be alerting them that there is land they can purchase. So most of the cases end up been frustrated by the village elders or chiefs as they are interested in the property.”
FGD participant – female


“When i was in school, the teacher marked my paper and gave me fewer marks. She however gave another pupil my marks. When I asked about it she said “Hata wewe marks mzuri itakupeleka wapi? Wewe ni mlemavu hakuna mahali utafika. (Where will a good mark take you? U are disabled, there is nowhere you can go.)” Female FGD participant.

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