On 27th November 2021 Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization (CTWOO) Founder Ms. Dianah Kamande held a dinner at Jambo Hall Safari Park Hotel with attendance of one hunderd and thirty five guests.
The dinner was held to mark 16 Day of Activism- Scars of Honour Book Launch. The theme was END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN NOW.
The Event Master of Ceremony was Mr. John Jacob Kiuria assisted by Wanjiku Waithanje.
The Event was SPONSORED by:
- Gredico Properties
- Realtors Expo
- Bountiful Safaris
- Certified Homes Limited
- Media Personalities and Media houses
- Manna Ministries International
- UN Women
- Unclaimed Financial Asset Authority (UFAA)
- Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development (CCGD)
- Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW)
- Principal Secretary-State Department for Correctional Services
- Ambassador Manuela Leimgruber – Embassy of Switzerland (only mention, not talking)
- Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes
The guests arrived early and were sat at the venue by 4:00 p.m. which was the scheduled time for the start of the dinner. The Master of Ceremony, Mr. John Jacob Kiuria, invited Bishop Dismas Onjula to the stage to say a word of prayer so they could start the dinner off.
After this, the Master of Ceremony invited various guests to addresses the guests.
SURVIVORS OF GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
Ms. Caroline Chagaya a survivor of Gender Based Violence and a mother of two narrated her real-life Story of how she has undergone violence. She narrated how the violence all started at the age of 13 years where she was molested by her grandfather. She decided to open up to her mother about the incidence, but the mother instead of helping her advised her to go take a shower and not say a thing about the issue.
Ms. Caroline explained that the grandfather continued with his ill habits for a while and so she suffered in silence for some time until she could not take it anymore. She ran away from her grandparents’ home to her mother’s home who at the time had gotten married elsewhere.
Life there wasn’t easy either as she says she always got a thorough beating from the mum every time she tried to open up to her about what she had gone through in the hands of her grandfather. When she couldn’t take it anymore, she had no option but to go back to her grandfather’s place.
She however had looked for her biological father but couldn’t live with him as he was not married at the time. In form two the worst happened while she was still living with her grandparents. She was raped! In their own home Compound.
Caroline narrates how one night her brother organized how another man could sleep with her without her consent. When she woke up the next morning, she spotted blood on her clothes. She however, couldn’t tell anybody as that would bring shame unto her as blood spotting wasn’t taken so lightly by people from her area.
She went to the river and had a bath. Notably, all this time she was not aware that she had been taken advantage of. Even so, she was in pain and could not explain where the pain was coming from. It is then that she decided to consult her teacher why she was in pain yet she could not explain where the pain was coming from.
The teacher told her that could be she had her periods without her knowledge and the pain is as a result of hormonal imbalance and that with time her body would adjust. Shock on her the following month she did not receive her periods. Days went by until one day she overheard her grandmother speculating that she could be pregnant.
She was so annoyed that she confronted her asking her how she could be pregnant yet she had not known nor slept with any man. She decided to go to the hospital and it was confirmed that she was indeed pregnant. She called her brother and broke the news to him. It is then that her brother explained to her what transpired one night where a man bribed him so that she could trick her in to sleeping with him.
Be that as it may, she still couldn’t take any action as she was young and gullible. When her father learnt of her pregnancy, he disowned her and told her that she has brought shame upon him and the entire family. Caroline narated how after this; life took a toll on her as she could not afford to buy anything for her child until the child was three months old where she started doing odd jobs.
When her child was six months old, she was married off to a total stranger in Nairobi. She had no option but to give in. Her marriage, she explained was characterized by physical, emotional, economic and sexual abuse. It came a point she decided to walk out of the marriage and that is when she begun doing odd jobs and finally to setting up her small business. She concluded by explaining how they met with Madam Dianah Kamande on a Gender Based Violence (GBV) seminar and she has since provided a shoulder for her to lean on.
CONNIE MUURU- Sharon Muuru Anti-domestic Violence Foundation.
Ms. Connie Muuru is the founder of Sharon Muuru Anti-domestic Violence Foundation. She founded the foundation after she lost her daughter Sharon Muuru to Domestic Violence. Connie narrated how her daughter Sharon met her death through Domestic Violence.
Sharon Muuru was murdered by her boyfriend who used to abuse her physically and economically. Connie explained that not once or twice did it happen but severally until she met her death. Ms. Connie recalled how it all began when the man approached Sharon in a very warm and friendly way pretending to be a calm and collected person.
Little did they know he would soon turn to be an abuser and finally a murderer. Ms. Connie vividly recalls how her instincts did not feel right about the man right from the first day she met him. She tried to warn the daughter Sharon about not feeling right about the man and that she should take some more time and think if that is the man, she wants to spend the rest of her life with.
Unfortunately, Sharon was a girl in love and did not listen to her mother’s advice. Well time went by and they moved in together and it was not long before the man started abusing Sharon as Connie narrated. Connie explained to the audience that the man started abusing Sharon physically, emotionally and economically. It came to a point that Ms. Connie got concerned so much about her daughter that she even took her to rehab for her to get time to recollect herself as she could see that she was really suffering.
Well Sharon bribed her way out of the rehab and told her mother to live her life alone. As a mother Connie explained that she wasn’t going to give up on her daughter’s life and even advised her to see a psychiatrist and recommended her certain doctor. Sharon didn’t hear or take any of that. It did not take long before Connie received a call from Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital to go confirm a body that resembled that of her daughter Sharon.
Connie went and confirmed that indeed that was her daughter’s body. That right moment it did hit her that her daughters spouse murdered her and had brutally beaten her to death. It was not easy for her as she sunk to depression due to the incidence. She reported the matter to the police but later did not give it so much attention as she was always told that investigations are still on till to date. She concluded by advising the audience to be strong but not be strong in an abusive relationship.
Janet Mwihaki is a survivor of Gender Based Violence, she narrated to the audience her experience. She began by explaining that she got married at the age of 16 years only as she is the firstborn from her family.
By the age of 23 she had already given birth to all her 3 kids. It is after giving birth to her third born child who is her last born that her marriage broke and she decided to call it quit. She survived on odd jobs until one day she was employed. Janet recalled how one day while she was going to work, she met with her Ex-husband who swore to kill her and stabbed her three times then left her to die. luckily, she was rescued and did not die.
After she had recovered and went back to work one day again, she met with her Ex-husband who then told her that since he has begged her to return to him and refused, he was going to kill her. It is then that he poured petrol on her and burnt her and again she did not die and was rescued by good Samaritans.
Janet explained that she has undergone 21 surgeries due to the 50% burns she suffered. She explained that she reported the man, who was jailed but later released. Despite all these he still threatens her till today. Janet wept uncontrollably remembering the suffering and the ordeal that this man has put her through.
This whole situation led to her being rejected by her family members together with her kids. All in all, she concluded by saying that she trusts in God that one day all the suffering will come to an end and that justice will be served. She thanked Ms. Dianah Kamande for acting as a shoulder for her to lean on and providing her a platform to tell her story.
Hope Wambui Ochieng Poem on GBV
Hope is a 10-year-old girl. Lives in Kibra Lang’ata. and a student in Peace Junior School. She confidently recited a poem on Gender Based Violence.
Poem Title: End Violence Against Women and Girls Now
Look at her face, her eyes, the smile on her lips
Tells that her heart is not okay, reading in between the lines
She is in pain, her body language, mind, heart is sick
And seeking for your help, because every time
she tries to polish her heart with peace, love and unity.
The pain and wound of Gender Based Violence,
are freshened again by her abuser.
OOH no every day she is getting too weak
and almost losing it all for she can’t hold on to the physical and cold war.
I see depression, I see loss I see a star deeming.
I see a life cut short I see shuttered dreams the downfall of a CEO.
Speak out be your sister’s keeper, before it’s too late
take a moment listen and believe them.
She is an eagle when she flies so fly away, walk away,
run away from that abusive relationship and say no to Gender Based Violence
# Ikikataa sio lazima whether young or old,
married or not you don’t deserve a life of misery.
Look how sweet you are amazing pretty adorable,
you wear many hats you are full of ambitions,
a role model, a potential woman, a woman of substance full of positive vibes,
an inspiration to many you are the CEO of your life
usikimye just because you are married to the best sports man of your time
could be you are dating a tycoon, he is a celebrity
just because you are ha ve sired with him
and he gave a ransom dowry to your parents
so unafeel ndoa ni kuvumilia
kindly a divorced daughter is better than a grave in your compound
Tukomeshe dhulma za kijinsia say no to gender-based violence,
our voices matter our voices our freedom
let’s raise our voices of hope to end this pain of unhealed wounds,
run not only for the medals, fame, wealth to keep your body fit,
run for your dear life, your dignity, respect, safety
run for a better future be a hero set a new world record
by standing in the frontline in the fight against Gender Based Violence.
End Violence against women and girls now
by raising awareness holding each other accountable,
funding women organizations educating, men and boys,
support at least photographers, journalist who raised awareness
about ending violence against women and girls act now.
The Panelist consisted of five people. The MC posted a question first to Ms. Zipporah Nderitu from POLICARE on why the people who committed the heinous acts on both Connie Muuru’s daughter and Janet Mwihaki are still free. On responding Ms. Zipporah Nderitu first congratulated Ms. Dianah Kamande for standing with the survivors of Gender Based Violence. She promised to pick up the details of the survivors of gender-based violence and follow up on their cases as well as get to know the reason as to why after reporting to the police they were never assisted.
Representing FIDA was the Deputy Executive Director Wanjiru Kamanda. Who explained that they have received 9800 cases this year. 1500 of them are Gender Based Violence cases and 680 of the 1500 are intimate partner violence cases and 200 cases are from family and in-law violence. She explained to the audience that as FIDA-Kenya they have requested the president to declare intimate partner violence and femicide as a national disaster. This will result to resources being set aside to address the disaster. This she explained that because the state has an obligation to protect its people.
Bernadette addressed how far we are as a nation in fighting GBV. Particularly she addressed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is a form of violence that is subjected to girls and women. She explained that this is fueled by the fact that we live in a patriarchal society and women are made to understand that they do not really own their bodies. This she explained in the fact that a woman who has not been ‘cut’ is not allowed to cook for her son or take part in offering a hand during a ceremony in the community as other women.
Needless to say, that even when she wants to vie for a political seat, people first question whether she is been cut. Ms. Bernadette went ahead to explain that the fight against FGM is on and the president gave a directive to end FGM by 2022. Still, they have come up with community dialogues where communities are allowed and given a platform to speak up and say a particular thing is wrong and something should be done about it.
She mentioned that to address this they have a multi-agency technical committee both in the Ministry of interior and coordination of national government and in the Ministry of Public service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programme at the national and county level and soon it will be to the subcounty level. She concluded that it is the responsibility of everyone to advocate against FGM.
Ms. Wangechi on behalf of Center for Rights Education Awareness (CREAW) explained that they are working with and for women who are survivors of violence. They give psycho-social support. As CREAW they have started a Jasiri fund which is the first of its kind that is targeting women who are survivors of violence to empower them economically. She explained that they are doing this in partnership with two organizations namely; Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development (CCGD) and Groots Kenya.
She explained that through the fund the women are able to access KES10,000 all the way up to half a million Kenyan Shillings. Again, she mentioned that they are offering legal support where they provide probono services. As she concluded she explained that they have a request of having a special court that are resourced to take cases of gender-based violence and speed up the process.
Lindah Wachira represented Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization (CTWOO). She explained that at Come Together Widows and Orphans Organization some form of violence that widows go through is disinheritance after their spouse die, rejection from both families and made to go through harmful traditional practices such as sleeping with the husband’s corpse, shaving their hair as a way of being cleansed.
She emphasized that CTWOO has been putting a lot of effort through awareness creation, offering legal advices to see to it that widows are enlightened about their rights. CTWOO also provides Economic empowerment to the widows and also survivors of gender-based violence through partnerships from the government and other like-minded organizations such as CREAW. She also thanked Fida- Kenya, CREAW and CCGD for always taking up cases that area a bit difficult for CTWOO to handle. She added that CTWOO has drafted a bill for widows which is a great milestone to improve their welfare.
Rachael was the school mate to Dianah Kamande back in Secondary School. She reminisced at their days back in high school where Dianah Kamande was the head girl. She said that that is an indication that her leadership skills did not sprout out, out of her nasty situation but were rather acquired early in time.
She praised Dianah as one who has been tough and that has helped her face situations in her life. In conclusion she urged the audience to walk the talk and walk out of their relationships if they are not working. Giving an example of herself that she is now divorced for six years a choice she made instead of going back to her parents in a coffin.
Ms. Cynthia Kamau was Dianah’s Employer after her nasty incidence. She explained that Dianah was her friend even before going through the gruesome act by her husband. She heard of the incident and kept following up on how she was recuperating as she was out of the country and then one day when she flew back to the country she decided to go and visit her.
It’s then that she decided that something must be done after seeing the state in which Dianah was in or else she will sink to depression. To salvage the situation, she decided to offer Dianah a slot in her office. She explains at the time they did not have any vacancy for a job but decided to offer her anyway because she knew that her aim was to create a safe space for Dianah to recuperate and at least earn something for the sake of her children.
With time Dianah began telling her story on Facebook and she started getting invites to the main media houses for interviews. Then with time Dianah talked To Cynthia and thanked her for the assistance and that she had decided to start her own organization through the assistance she got after her interviews. The organization grew from a Community Based Organization (C.B.O) and is now a national organization CTWOO. Ms. Cynthia concluded by urging the participants to say no to Gender Based Violence.
Ms. Lydia Mathia is the founder of Daughters of Kenya (D.O.K). She explained that the aim of founding the DOK is to harness the voice of young women. She also noted that she is a survivor of GBV and has been in court for 4 years due to GBV until there came a time that she had to choose between her need for justice and her child’s welfare of the father. She urged the audience to always first track the perpetrators behavior and see where their behaving of abusing women is escalating from. Her humble request as she concluded was, we need a special unit of the police force that will specialize in handling GBV.
She is the Deputy Country Director UN Women. She began by thanking everyone for attending the great Scars of Honour Book Launch initiative. She began by tracking back to when the 16 days of Activism Campaign begun. She noted that the campaign started back in 1991 and continues to serve as an important platform drawing attention to prevention and response to GBV towards a peaceful; society for all.
She continued to highlight this year’s theme which is “orange the world, end violence against women now” a reminder to us all that ending violence against women and girls is everyone’s business. Ms. Rukaya explained that Gender Based Violence remains a major challenge in Kenya, and that us being there that tonight was an affirmation that in the decades to come we shall continue relentlessly to confront the vice of GBV.
Women and girls, Boys and Men should not rest until this vice is out of us. She went ahead to highlight that one in every 3 girls and more than 2 in every 5 boys has experienced either physical or sexual violence at their current age. She noted nearly one quarter are married at young age and almost half of women in Kenya have experienced intimate partner GBV indicative of covid 19 the shadow pandemic. Still in her speech Miss Rukaya noted more than one in every 5 girls have experienced FGM in Kenya. 21 percent aged between 15-49years have been subjected to FGM.
More than 8 million widows comprising of 15% of the population exist in Kenya and most of them remain disadvantaged by harmful cultural practices, patriarchal society and poverty. Kenya is hence devoted to end GBV by 2026. She called upon everyone to speak up hold each other accountable and support local organizations who work toward ending GBV. She concluded by saying that all of us are shaped by scars, many suffer in silence and the book Scars of Honour is special and confirms that indeed one can transform his or her scars to triumph.
Ms. Dianah Kamande begun by acknowledging the Ministry of Public service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programme for being a home to CTWOO. Acknowledged Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia for being a mother and a mentor and her leadership skills are exquisite and to be emulated. Acknowledged the following people: Hon Dr Linah Jebii Kilimo for supporting the widows of this country and teaching her to be a good reader by gifting her a book.
The deputy country director Ms. Rukaya Mohammed for being an amazing leader and she still recalls the first award she presented to her, Ms. Anna Mutavati for the support. Madam Bernadette Loloju for doing a good job at the Anti-Fgm board. Wangechi Kariuki from CREAW for giving widows and survivors of GBV money to start business and always offering her services to whoever needs them.
Ms. Milka Wangui from CCGD, FIDA-K for taking up most of the legal cases that widows face, recognized Ambassador Manuela Leimgruber from the Embassy of Switzerland for offering a listening ear, Certified Homes for offering CSR services, supporting orphans, and sponsoring the event, Gredico Properties for sponsoring the event too, the clergy and everyone else who attended the event, Cynthia Kamau for giving her a place to go and heal.
Hon. Rachael Shebesh who went to parliament and raised her voice on behalf of her and she linked her to Prof. Margaret Kobia. Ms. Margaret Kimani who works for the bank of Mauritius, who when she learnt of her story, she told her she wants to support her by connecting her to other influential people.
Thanked Mr. Kamande, her father who sold his only begotten land to pay for her school fees. Hon. Elius Mbau who was their board chair while she was at high school for bearing with her dad after he brought the title deed for them to stay at school. Ms. Dianah Kamande went ahead and noted that she wanted to become a police officer ever since she was young.
This was fueled by the fact that her neighbor back in Korogocho used to beat his wife and so she really wanted to become a police officer so that she can arrest him. Concluded by encouraging every participant that a divorced daughter is better than a grave and that you can walk through widowhood and come out as a victor.
Hon. Dr. Linah Jebii Kilimo
Dr. Linah Kilimo began by acknowledging all the sponsors and everyone present. She acknowledged CS Prof Margaret Kobia for giving her an opportunity to represent her at the launch. Thanked CTWOO and Dianah Kamande who made her realize challenges that widows face.
Thanked Dianah for writing her book to provide people with the invisible information of widows. Urged her not to stop dreaming because there are so many widows looking up to her. Praised her for rising high despite her being brought up in Korogocho slums. Encouraged her to keep on dreaming, soaring higher and those trials only come to make one strong. On behalf of the government, she urged people and development partners to come on board to work for the widows and survivors of GBV of this country.
As the government she explained that they have reviewed the GBV policy to ensure they put an aspect of a rescue shelter for GBV victims and survivors. Acknowledged POLICARE for stopping retraumatizing of GBV victims. In conclusion. Linah Jebii urged everyone to make issues of GBV an everyday conversation.
To conclude with, the event was successful. The book “Scars of Honour” was launched in a remarkable venture of addressing Gender Based Violence during the 16 days of Activism 2021 whose theme is END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN NOW! It is an important book that brings various forms of Gender Based Violence out of hidden shadows and into the limelight.
The book intends to review and gain a greater understanding of Gender Based Violence, how it manifests, who is affected, how it can be dealt with and what are the implications. The book brings out how GBV is a ‘bad business’ that is intolerable with potentially both mental and physical ramifications for its victims and sanctions for its perpetrators are widely accepted facts. It highlights how the effect of violence can remain with children for a very longtime as well as greatly affect them negatively.
It brings out how GBV is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world. All the same, the book is an inspiration that seeds of purpose can be born through some of the life’s most violent and painful circumstances. It is a way of calling to action and that it should be everyone’s vision to have an inclusive world, free of discrimination and gender-based violence and to realize this vision the commitment of every one is required.