Hotline, ‘gender champions’, tackle violence against girls in drought-hit Kenya

"So I decided to leave and take my children back to my mother’s."
Abdi Buhad is part of a group of women and men – drawn from community members, police officers, journalists, health workers, and non-governmental organizations, among others – who last year set up a gender support desk and hotline in Wajir for victims of violence.
If the allegation is found to be substantiated and the victim is willing to come forward, the gender desk helps her bring the case to court.
"They (elders) will order the culprit’s clan to give the victim’s family 100 camels, as punishment, which never go to the victim anyway," she said.
Fatouma Mohammed, whose daughter’s case is now being tried before a Wajir court, thanks to support from the gender group, said both of them routinely receive hate threats from her brother-in-law’s family.
Adan said that in the past year nine cases of violence against women and girls have been tried, all of which resulted in jail sentences.
In addition to seeking justice for victims of violence, the gender desk aims to shift traditional, patriarchal attitudes towards women and girls.
Abdi Buhad said the group is trying to make men part of the solution, by identifying "gender champions" and convincing those men to speak out on local radio against violence and to promote gender equality.
Funding also would help the group build a much-needed shelter for victims of sexual violence, she added.
Mariam, who now refuses to venture outside her home alone, said she "almost wants him (her uncle) to be exonerated, so we can try to forget about all of this".

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