Jane Abuto is a leader among the women participating in the Group Savings & Loan program of Alice Visionary Foundation Project, WomenStrong International’s Consortium Member in Kenya. She also works as a paralegal in her community, assisting women who are victims of violence in and around the slums of Manyatta in Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city. This work doesn’t always sit well with the perpetrators of violence, so Jane’s job has put her – and her family – in harm’s way…more than once.
We asked Jane to tell us about a recent experience with violence in Manyatta, and her story left us both horrified and awed by her courage, determination, and selflessness.
As you watch the video, keep in the mind the scope of the problem. Statistics indicate that Kenya has some of the world’s highest rates of violence against women. One in three Kenyan females has experienced an episode of sexual violence before age 18, the World Bank reports, and Kenya’s own 2015 Demographic Health Survey reveals that 45 percent of women aged 15-49 have experienced either physical or sexual violence. More than 41 percent of Kenyan women experience sexual and/or physical violence by intimate partners over their lifetimes, while in a 12-month period, 31% of women live with active violence in their homes, according to Kenyan Woman.
In more than 90 percent of reported cases, men are the main perpetrators of this violence. However, men can also be victims of violence, with one in five Kenyan males having experienced an episode of sexual violence before age 18. Perhaps most shockingly, 24 percent of survivors of gender-based violence are girls under 11.
A lack of law enforcement is largely to blame for the growing number of cases. Those charged with enforcing the laws are often entirely unsympathetic. Nevertheless, in recent years, the Kenyan Parliament has passed a number of laws to protect victims and prosecute offenders. Among these are the Sexual Offences Act (2006), Employment Act (2007), Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, and the Victims Protection Act. But with the rate of gender-based violence still rising, what’s written in the law books has clearly not benefited women, girls, and boys in the communities where they live.
Jane’s role as a paralegal, therefore, guiding women to existing legal remedies and safety, answers a vital need, indeed. She is a true #WomenStrongWarrior.