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Kenya: Don’t be silent

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Kenya: Usikimye

Nchini Kenya, janga la corona lilizidisha visa vya unyanyasaji wa nyumbani, ila tatizo hilo limekuwepo na wahasiriwa wamekua wakisaidiwa na watu.

Njeri wa Migwi mwenye umri wa miaka 40 alijua ni wakati wa kuchukua hatua alipopoteza uwezo wa kusikia kwa sikio moja baada ya kupigwa na mumewe. Ulikuwa uamuzi ambao ulimchukua miaka 15 ya kupigwa, kukanyagwa, kupigwa teke, kurushwa, na kugongeshwa kwenye kuta. Aliolewa akiwa na umri mdogo wa miaka 16, Njeri alitafsiri kukaa katika uhusiano wa dhuluma kama unyanyakevu.

Wakati utambuzi ulipozidi kuongezeka kuwa kuna watu wengi wamenaswa katika shida hiyo hiyo, aliungana na rafiki yake wa karibu, Stella Kachina, na kuanzisha shirika la Usikimye, mnamo 2019.

Usikimye sasa imekua kimbilio la wahasiriwa wa ukatili wa kijinsia. Inawahifadhi walionusurika kwa siku 90 kwenye majumba yao yanayotumika kama nyumbani mwa waathiriwa japo kwa mpito. Inawapa huduma za matibabu bila malipo, uwakilishwaji kortini, uchunguzi wa kisheria, vyumba salama vya mpito, ushauri wa kudhibiti mawazo, tiba kupitia sanaa, kucheza, na kuanzisha biashara ndogo ndogo. 

Walionusurika pia wanapata vikao vya tiba mara mbili kwa juma.

Wazo la kuanzisha mahali salama pa walionusurika liliwadia wakati ambapo afisa wa polisi alimpendekezea manusura wa unyanyasaji wa kijinsia. Mwanadada huyo aliyenusurika hakua na makao. Wa Migwi alimkaribisha kwake nyumbani, akampa makazi na mavazi, ushauri na usaidizi wa kifedha. Hiki kilikua kisa cha kwanza kwa Njeri kugharamia kati ya vilio kadhaa kutoka kwa wanaohujumiwa. 

Wa Migwi alianza kufanya utafiti. Nchini Kenya, mmoja kati ya wanawake watatu wenye umri wa kati ya miaka 15 na 55 wanapitia unyanyasaji wa kijinsia. Idadi kwa wanaume ni mmoja kati ya 54. Na hili linatokana na uzoefu wa kutopiga ripoti za unyanyasaji kwa polisi. 

Alipozungumza na The Continent alisema: “Ubakaji wa watu wakongwe na mauaji ya wanawake imekua jambo la kawaida.”

Kwa siku ya kawaida, Migwi hupokea takriban simu kumi za dhiki kwenye rununu yake. Siku yenye visa vingi ikiwadia, rununu yake haipumziki manake simu zinaingia baada ya nyingine. 

Ilani ya kusitishwa katikhuli za kawaida kutokana na janga la corona iliongezea visa vya unyanyasaji wa kijinsia mara dufu. Jumba lake la kuhifadhi manusura lilikua na watu 100 walionusurika. Wakati huo huo, kikundi chake kilihudumia visa 450 vya unyanyasaji wa kijinsia. 

Migwi ambaye ni mama wa watoto watano, anatazama mtindo huu kama funzo kwa upande wake. Mtindo ambao umembadilisha kutoka kwa kazi aliyoisomea nchini Uchina, ya miundo na urembeshaji wa ndani ya majumba, na kufwata mkondo mpya wa kuhudimia walionusurika kutoka kwa unyanyasaji wa kijinsia. 

Hata hivyo, haijakua safari yenye wepesi kamwe. Katika jitihada zake za kutetea haki za waliohujumiwa, Njeri ametiwa mbaroni mara mbili sasa. 

“Kukamatwa kwa kejeli zaidi kulikuwa kwenye harusi ya rafiki yangu ambayo nilikuwa msindikizaji wa maarusi. Hii ilikuwa baada ya kumwokoa mwanamke ambaye alikuwa amesongwa na kupigwa na mumewe. Polisi wa Bururburu walitoza shtaka la usafirishaji haramu dhidi yetu baada ya mume kutoa malalamiko. Niliwasihi wasisababishe vurugu yoyote nilipokua ninaelekezwa kwenye gari la polisi lililokua likisubiri. Niliachiliwa huru mwendo wa saa tisa asubuhi baada ya shirika la Amnesty Intertional kuingilia kati.”

Mawazo ya Jamii kuhusu unyanyasaji wa kijinsia yanazidi kumkwaza kila kuchao, watu wanapozidi kuonya tomu yake kua “komeni kuingilia mambo ya wapendanao”. “. Wameshambuliwa kimwili na waume wahalifu na kile anachokiita “washabiki wa kidini”.

Kwa mujibu wa kikundi chake, kinachowapa wasiwasi ni kua watu wengi wanahusika katika kuficha visa vya unyanyasaji wa kijinsia kwenye jamii zao. 

Wa Migwi anasema: “Tunakumbana na visa ambapo jamii inaamua ‘kushughulikia’ visa kwa siri, wahasiriwa walionyamazishwa, utoaji hongo ili kuzuia haki na kutompa haki anayeyeitaifuta kwa wakati huo.”

Mamlaka za mitaa pia zinafanya mambo kua magumu zaidi. Usikimye imetuhumiwa kwa makosa ya biashara haramu ya binadamu, magendo ya binadamu na hata biashara ya ngono. Wa Migwa anasema kua hizi zote ni jitihada za kuwaharibia sifa na kuwadhalilisha.

Bila kukata tamaa, kundi lake limefungua kituo cha hifadhi ambacho lengo lake kuu ni kuwaokoa na kusitiri wanachama wa LGBTQi+. Kituo hicho wanachokiita ‘The Rainbow House’ kipo kwenye harakati za kuanzisha kitengo cha mawasiliano ambacho kitafanya kazi masaa 24 kila siku ili kurahisisha mawasiliano na huduma za uokoaji.

Wa Migwi ananuia kufungua matawi katika kaunti zote 47 nchini Kenya ambayo yatakua yanashughulikia mahitaji tofauti tofauti kulingana na matatizo yanayowakumba manusura. 

“Ninataka dunia ambayo kila mmoja atakua anajihisi nyumbani na kuishi kwa raha zake. Nitafanya sehemu yangu kuhakikisha kua hilo linatimika.”

Don’t be silent

In Kenya Covid-19 exacerbated domestic abuse, but the problem has always existed and people are helping save survivors

When she lost her hearing in one ear after being battered by her husband, 40-year-old Njeri wa Migwi knew it was time to act. It was a decision that took her 15 years of being hit, trampled on, kicked, tossed, and shoved against the walls. Married at the tender age of 16, Njeri interpreted staying in an abusive relationship as a submission.

As the realization deepened that there were so many people trapped in the same predicament, she teamed up with her close friend Stella Kachina to found Usikimye, Swahili for Don’t Be Silent, in 2019.

Usikimye is now a one-stop center for victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV). It hosts survivors for 90 days in their transitional homes, offering free medical evaluation, paralegal help, forensic evaluation, transitional safe rooms, trauma counseling, art therapy, yoga, dance, and starting up a small-scale business. 

Survivors are also offered therapy sessions twice a week.

The idea of creating a safe space started when police referred an SGBV survivor to her, as she had no place to call home. wa Migwi opened her family house, offering her shelter, counseling, and financial help. It was the first in the many distress calls she would attend to.

She then did some research. In Kenya one in three women between the ages of 15 and 55 experiences SGBV. The number in men is one in 54. And this is with extensive under-reporting of abuse to police. 

Talking to The Continent, she says: “Rape among the elderly and femicide has become a norm.”

On a normal day, wa Migwi gets about 10 distress calls on her cell phone. On a bad day, the phone doesn’t stop buzzing. Covid-19 lockdowns have made the situation worse. The safehouse has had 100 survivors and the team has handled 450 cases of abuse. 

The mother of five views this as a learning curve. A curve that has seen her change from the interior designing career she pursued in China to redesigning the path for survivors of SGBV.

It has, however, not been a smooth sail. In her quest for justice, she has been thrown behind bars- twice.

“The most ridiculous arrest was at a friend’s wedding in which I was a bridesmaid. This was after we had rescued a lady who had been choked and beaten by her husband. The Bururburu police levied a counter-trafficking charge against us after the husband raised a complaint. I had to plead with them not to cause any drama as I was escorted to the waiting police car. I was released at around 3 a.m. after Amnesty International intervened.”

The community mindset towards SGBV continues to worry her, with people repeatedly telling her team that “you should not come between two lovebirds”. They have been physically attacked by husbands and what she calls “religious fanatics”. 

Worryingly for her team, far more people are involved in hiding SGBV in their communities. 

wa Migwi says: “We deal with cases like the community opting to “handle” cases in secret, silenced victims, greasing of palms in exchange for justice and justice is misplaced in the process.” 

Local authorities also make it difficult. Usikimye has been accused of human trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking. This, wa Migwi says, is targeted at ruining their reputation and discrediting them. 

Undeterred, her team has since opened a rescue center tailor made for the LGBTQi+ people, dubbed “The Rainbow House” They are in the process of setting up a call center with a 24 hours’ hotline to ease communication and rescue.

wa Migwi’s plans include opening up a center in each of the 47 counties in Kenya, tailor-made to suit their different needs. 

“I want a world where everyone can be comfortable to live in. I will do my bit to make that happen.”

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