Sexual violence in Rachuonyo persists despite milestones

UNICEF notes that 24 per cent of Kenyan females saw their first sexual encounter before 18 as forced [Jeckonia Otieno, Standard]
Conspiracy to defeat justice for sexual violence meted on teenage girls is still common among school girls in Pala Area of Karachuonyo North, Homa Bay County.

This is the message that emerged during the day set aside to celebrate milestones in child protection.

Dubbed Child Protection Open Day, speakers decried the fact that perpetrators – who are often relatives of the girls – collude with parents or guardians to offer them a soft landing.

Speaking during the event held at Kokoth Primary School bringing together primary schools in the area, the division’s assistant county commissioner Maureene Akhonya noted that the government will continue dealing firmly with such cases.

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“The common trend here is families trying to solve issues outside the justice system in the name of protecting ‘our person’ yet this only denies the victims of sexual violence the justice they deserve,” said Akhonya.

The administrator further said that any cases received are always dealt with firmly to act as an example to others who may be tempted to commit such an offense.

A 2010 UNICEF report classifies sexual violence as unwanted sexual touching; unwanted attempted sex, pressured sex and physically forced sex.

During the open day speakers ranging from children to teachers said that despite developments that have been witnessed in the country, discrimination and violence against girls has continued to rear its ugly head thus denying them an opportunity to match their male counterparts.

One of the areas which identified as an impediment to the education of girls is lack of sanitary towels which forces some girls to keep off school for a number of days thus making them lose valuable time that should be spent in class.

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Benson Okoth, the curriculum support officer for Pala and Got Oyaro Zones said that lack of sanitary towels was a challenge that has negatively impacted on girls’ education. He pointed out that while the government programme to supply sanitary towels has helped, it still has not covered all girls who require these essential wares.

“Our girls have been dying in silence because they cannot afford sanitary towels; what the government gives isn’t enough and so a compliment is very necessary,” said Okoth.

He averred that the in provision of reusable towels, girls can be assured that they will be in school without missing due to normal biological functions.  Okoth also said that lack of sanitary towels was leading to early pregnancies as some girls seek out relatives and other adults like bodaboda riders to care to buy them these towels. In this way, they can be taken advantage of.

He stated, “We have provided a platform for the future that our children will be getting these reusable sanitary towels from World Vision to keep them is school because some of these children fear coming to school when they are having their menstrual flows.”

World Vision’s Charles Komolleh who heads the programme said that the project is being piloted in the area with a vision that it will be rolled out in all schools within the county of Homa Bay.

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 “This is a project that has successfully been rolled out in Busia Couny with the support of the county government and we believe that it can be replicated here successfully,” observed Komolleh.

One pack has four towels which Komolleh says can be used in one for a whole period then washed and reused during the next flow.

Over 500 girls in primary schools are set to benefit from the project which is expected to see improved class attendance.

According to the 2010 UNICEF report, the number of girls facing sexual violence is more than double that of boys.

sexual abusesexual violencerachuonyohomabay county