The 'Keeping the Promise' campaign is hot on its heels, as it marked the second county launch in Kilifi County on the 15th & 16th of October. The event was attended by key duty bearers who summarized their commitments towards the prevention and response to GBV. They received the duty bearers handbook through a sensitization exercise and went through a plenary with various stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health, the education sector and involved CSOs.
Plan International was a key partner in enabling the success of the launch in Kilifi. Hosted at the Mnarani Beach Club, the event welcomed the County officials to speak about the various forms of GBV that are plaguing the society. The County Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Keter was the guest of honour, and he took to the podium to reaffirm the position of non-tolerance of violence against women and youth. He stated that it is high time that GBV was taken seriously, and not hushed up as it usually were due to traditional customs.
The police force was represented by the County Commander, Mr. Douglas Kanja and OCS Mr Dennis Wekesa who assured those in attendance that the plight to rid of 'disco matanga' is their number one agenda; looking at them as a platform that harboured perpetrators of the crime. A disco matanga is a cultural funeral practice that although tied to the Luo community, tends to happen in other regions of the country as well. The purpose of the disco matanga is to help raise money in order to give the deceased a proper burial. However, there tends to be a lot more that goes on behind the scenes at these fundraising events that raise the suspicion of the trend of GBV (promoted by other vices). For example, there may be the use of alcohol and drugs in order to enable the participants stay up through the night. This indulgence would lead to irresponsible behaviour among the youth who are the majority attendees to these discos due to the socialization aspect.
In Kilifi County, disco matangas have seen the rise of pupils leaving school to attend these, even as far off from school as they may be. The increased rate of early/unwanted pregnancies is alarming, and the community wants these discos halted.
Representatives from the Ministry of Health presented staggering statistics of the prevalence of GBV in the county. Raymond Katana, who is a medical social worker and trauma counselor at the GBV Recovery Center at the county referral hospital spoke of a report that shows that 367 underage girls from the area were reported or have delivered at the institution in the past nine months after either being defiled or engaging in incestuous early sex. He further stated that 207 of the girls delivered at the hospital while 160 were, mainly pupils, whose rape or defilement was reported and treated at the hospital. The 207 only delivered at the hospital even though they did not report their defilement or seek post rape treatment because most of the girls were assaulted by close family members, he disclosed. This report was launched at a function to mark the international day of the African Child at Vitengeni, earlier in the month.
We hope that the launch of the campaign in the County of Kilifi will strengthen the understanding of GBV as a crime, and instill hope in young girls and boys that the vice is being dealt with accordingly by the authorities. The duty bearers made their mark on the map as a region that is willing to work towards the elimination of all forms of violence against women, girls, men and boys.
"I can, we can, together we can end GBV!"