Nyalenda slums on spot for sexual violence against women and girls

Margaret Omondi, a team leader and a paralegal who advocates for the rights of the vulnerable at her residence in Nyalenda, Kisumu County during an interview. [Denish Ochieng/ Standard]

More than 30 women lawmakers under the umbrella of Embrace Kenya are today expected to visit Nyalenda slum, one of the hot spots of violence in 2017 election.

The sprawling slum, which is home to some of the most notorious criminals, was among the areas worst hit by violence during protests after the 2017 elections.

Then, six-month-old baby Samantha Pendo, whose parents live in the slums, became the face of police brutality after being clobbered to death by overzealous security men.

Today, Kisumu Woman Representative Roza Buyu and her Homa Bay Counterpart Gladys Wanga are expected to lead a team of women legislators to the slum to speak against gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence

The slum is a gender-based violence hot spot, with many women and young girls living in perpetual fear of prowling sex pests lurking in its dark alleys.

According to the Homa Bay woman rep, the lawmakers, drawn from the Opposition and ruling Jubilee Party, will visit Baby Pendo's mother and engage slum residents on sexual violence against women and girls.

"We want to get firsthand information on this very serious matter. We have spoken to Kenya Power to restore street lights in the slum because darkness is one of the reasons our girls are being raped," said Mrs Wanga.

Last year, police working undercover arrested seven suspects who were using an abandoned building on the outskirts of the slums to detain and rape women.

The raid was conducted after a freelance journalist secretly filmed the activities of the gang in the hide out. Several women came out to describe how they were grabbed and held inside the building.

Activist Boniface Ogutu said the gang waylaid victims and raped them in turns after robbing them.

Residents reported hearing calls for help from the building.

“Deep in the night we hear screams but no one can intervene," said Mary Anyango.

Still within the slums, a woman was stabbed to death inside her aunt's kitchen.

Caroline Atieno, 46, was stabbed in the neck by unknown people as she slept. She died outside the house as she was trying to find help. The matter was reported to the police and recorded under OB Number, OB 3/8/2/2019.

A group of paralegals based in the slum told The Standard that they handled at least two cases of rape and defilement and 10 cases of domestic violence every week. The team of 10 said it dealt with 50 cases of women sexually violated in post-election violence in 2017.

25 traumatised

"We still have 25 women undergoing counseling for trauma," said the team's leader, Margaret Omondi.

Among the cases handled by the centre was one where two suspects were reported to have raped four women after waylaying them as they went to toilets and bathrooms at night.

According to Ms Omondi, most of the girls defiled in the slum are aged between nine and 14.

County Police Commander Benson Maweu said many of the cases went unreported.