In the past few weeks, Kenyans have been treated to the most traumatising and distressing news of the worst kind of violence visited upon women and girls.
Stories of brutality against them, which include rape and murder, for crazy reasons by equally crazed fellows, have left the right-thinking members of the society not only upset and grieving but outraged. I have found myself feeling hopeless and helpless every time we are confronted with such news.
That one can slaughter a wife, clean the body, cover it and then stroll (or is it run?) to enjoy a bull-fighting event and then go back home as if nothing happened is unbelievable. That was in Kakamega.
Then a young man — a graduate to boot — and others storm a home in Litein, Kericho, and batter an elderly and sick couple — the most vulnerable of all — and rape children. And in an attempt at saving his sick skin from a crowd baying for his blood, the attacker argues that he committed the “lesser offence” of rape!
On a positive note, we have in our country individuals and groups who — unlike some of us who are only left hurt, outraged, helpless and angry at injustices and brutality against women, girls and children — opt to do something to make the lives of the victims and the disadvantaged better.
These are, in most cases, the unsung heroes who rescue girls and women violated through rape and other forms of violence, as well as rejection and denial of education, and give them a second chance in life.
And what better time for us to recognise these unsung women, and men, who have committed to make life better for the disadvantaged girls and women in our society than now, as we enter the month of March?
The International Women’s Day is celebrated every March 8 to recognise achievements by women and, most importantly, encourage actions for a gender-balanced and equal world. This year’s theme is “Balance for Better”. Let us take time to appreciate these individuals.
One woman I would like to appreciate ahead of IWD is Edith Murogo, the founder of the Githurai-based Centre for Domestic Training and Development.
Started in 2001 as a humble home to provide househelp services, the project has grown into an institute that trains domestic workers, complete with a recognised curriculum. The domestic workers transformation programme has also turned out to be a rescue centre for girls trafficked and separated from their families to work as domestic servants.
Murogo has heartbreaking tales of these minors. Some of these children — including those who have given birth following sexual abuse by their ‘employers’— who express a desire to go to school have realised their dream, courtesy of the organisation’s Talia Agler Girls Shelter project.
Since 2012, the project has rescued more than 500 girls and young women aged 10-24.
Murogo was recognised as a role model by then-US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger and won the “Women’s International Day Unsung Hero Award’’ in 2009.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Kenya Office has been hosting monthly mentorship sessions for pupils and secondary school students who interact with individuals from different professions.
The latest Unicef News Cafe, which brought together secondary school students, journalists and health experts, focused on demystifying HIV and the challenging stigma affecting the infected youth.
It emerged, for instance, that the language we use in the media and other communication channels influences behaviour and attitude towards those infected by HIV and Aids.
To mitigate this, the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) has developed guidelines to preferred terminologies in a document that is regularly reviewed. It is free of charge.
Ms Rugene is a consulting editor. [email protected] @nrugene