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POLITICAL CRISIS, SEXUAL VIOLENCE

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Title: POLITICAL CRISIS, SEXUAL VIOLENCE


1
POLITICAL CRISIS, SEXUAL VIOLENCE HIV The
absurd co-relation
  • Presentation by
  • Ms. Dorothy Onyango (OGW)
  • Executive Director
  • Women fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK)
  • Vice-Chair, ICW

2
Background of WOFAK
  • Founded in 1993 by a group of women who had
    tested HIV positive.
  • Registered in 1994 as a national NGO.
  • Initially, a forum for mutual support,
    empowerment, experience sharing and learning to
    enhance coping with the infection.
  • Currently serving close to 7000 women and 2500
    orphans across 7 resource centres in Kenya

3
POLITICAL CRISIS, SEXUAL VIOLENCE HIV the
absurd co-relation
  • Politics, in most cases, tend to shape the daily
    lifestyles of any given people, community and
    nation.
  • Political crises therefore disturb the
    socio-economic equilibrium, stability and
    cohesion.
  • Sexual violence, mainly as suffered by women,
    young girls and children, is the main by-product
    of political crises.
  • In such situations, criminal-minded people take
    advantage of lawlessness to perpetuate heinous
    acts against women and girls.

4
The absurd co-relation- cont.
  • The spread of HIV is promoted more in situations
    of political crises, where rape, unprotected
    sexual intercourse and unsafe needle practices
    become rampant.
  • Bigger sections of sexually active populations
    become disinterested or unable to secure safe sex
    in crisis situations.
  • Sexual violence, when directed at a woman living
    with HIV, will inhibit her ability to access care
    and deny her the chance to obtain competent care
    including access to and adherence to ART.
  • In a wider picture, sexual violence will be a
    serious driver of the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

5
The absurd co-relation- cont.
  • Political crises and sexual violence therefore
    combine to disproportionately affect National and
    community drive to effectively scale up and
    sustain gains made against HIV and AIDS.
  • Mortality and morbidity related to HIV and AIDS
    increase tremendously in situations of political
    crisis and sexual violence, thus nations that
    experience sporadic or sustained political crisis
    will always experience lapses in their HIV
    prevention, care and support efforts.
  • Often, such crisis will not only affect the
    concerned nations, but also spiral to the
    neighbouring countries.

6
Experiences of the Kenyan post-election crisis
  • Kenya went through a dark period of violence
    between Dec 2007 and March 2008 due to disputes
    from the results of the general elections held in
    Dec 2007.
  • 350,000 people lost their homes and were
    displaced.
  • 1000 people lost their lives
  • Property and businesses worth billions were lost
    through fires, vandalism and looting.
  • It took the intervention of the international
    community, led by Dr. Koffi Annan, to bring back
    a fragile peace, through a power-sharing pact.

7
Effect of the crisis on women, girls and children
  • Women, girls and children were displaced in huge
    numbers. More than 60 of the internally
    displaced people (IDPs) were women, girls and
    children.
  • Women and girls were subjected to gross abuses,
    including rape and physical violence directed to
    harm and cause fear.
  • In the camps for the internally displaced
    persons, women faced sexual violence of high
    magnitude. Cases of rape and gang-raping were
    widespread within and outside camps, yet no one
    dared report, in fear of incrimination, revenge
    and further violence.
  • In exchange for foodstuffs, clothing, blankets
    and for security, women and girls were forced to
    provide sexual favors within and outside camps
    during the crisis.

8
Cont.
  • Internally displaced persons (IDP) camps did not
    have measures for HIV or STI prevention, thus all
    sexual encounters within the camps were risky and
    potentially, a case of HIV infection or
    re-infection.
  • Women experienced great difficulties accessing
    HIV and AIDS care services due to insecurity and
    fear of further victimization by armed thugs.
  • Those on antiretroviral therapy (ART) had to miss
    their drug refills and clinic schedules.
  • There was systematic health deterioration among
    women living with HIV in the IDP camps and even
    outside.
  • Many women lost a lot of grounds in terms of
    their health due to all these.

9
Kenyan national responses to the crisis
  • National responses to the political crisis, in as
    far as HIV prevention, care and support were
    lukewarm and rather focused on relief supplies
    such as foodstuffs.
  • There were no measures to provide prevention
    services, especially to the displaced people, and
    there were no measures to support women and girls
    to protect them from sexual violence.
  • National efforts were coordinated mainly by The
    Kenya Red Cross Society and a few
    non-governmental organizations and foreign
    diplomatic missions.
  • Even the Kenya national AIDS Control Council
    (NACC) came into the picture belatedly and only
    after being prodded by the civil society groups.
    Still the influence was not positively felt.

10
National responses to the crisis. (cont.)
  • HIV prevention, treatment, care and support
    services were ignored for the internally
    displaced.
  • The best that was heard from Government was on
    the return-home program for the internally
    displaced people.
  • There were no surveillance systems for tracking
    of new infections and the levels of health
    deterioration for women and children living with
    HIV among the internally displaced.
  • To date, no one knows the extent to which the
    post election crisis pushed Kenyan HIV prevalence
    rates.

11
WOFAK RESPONSES
  • Our responses were triggered by the recognition
    that the majority of the internally displaced
    people were women, girls and children, the main
    focus of our work against HIV and AIDS.
  • These responses were also triggered by calls from
    some of our clients who were holed up in one of
    the biggest IDP camps in Nairobi- the Jamhuri
    show ground camp.
  • WOFAK was able to mobilize resource from a few of
    her partners, led by the Stephen Lewis Foundation
    and People Bridge Charitable Foundation and
    Concern WW.
  • With this, we mounted significant responses to
    support women, girls and children living with HIV
    and AIDS.

12
WOFAK responses (cont.)
  • Our interventions
  • included
  • Food provision
  • Mobile medical care camps at the IDP camps.
  • Trauma and post rape counselling services
  • Ambulatory services to health facilities for the
    bed-ridden

13
WOFAK responses (cont)
  • Other interventions included
  • Support counselling
  • Supported referrals for further care
  • Group counselling at the camps and at WOFAK
    centres
  • Provision of blankets, clothes and sanitary
    towels
  • We recognize that in the face of such huge and
    ferocious
  • Assault on women, girls and children, what we did
    was rather a drop in the ocean, yet we consider
    them as a brilliant effort at salvage.

14
THE BIG NATIONAL ASSIGNMENT
  • National efforts at disaster preparedness must be
    established.
  • Civil society groups must acquire skills for
    disaster responses, especially to protect women
    and girls from sexual abuse during crisis and at
    all times.
  • Trainings in gender-based violence recovery, post
    rape counselling, trauma counselling and support,
    need to be mainstreamed in all disaster
    responses.
  • Policy mechanisms need to be put in place to
    safeguard women and girls from sexual violence
    and all forms of abuse and to include HIV
    prevention, care and support for the infected in
    emergency interventions.

15
The Big assignment
  • Security personnel must be made more sensitive to
    cases of violence against women and girls.
  • We thank the International support we received as
    a Country and as women, during the crisis.
    Without which we would have been annihilated by
    the violence.
  • Finally, we pray in Kenya, that we shall not
    again, encounter the scenes of violence that we
    witnessed between December 2007 and march 2008.

16
CONCLUSION
  • There is need to protect women and girls in
    situations of political crisis as they are the
    worst affected and suffer sexual violence in such
    situations.
  • It would be gainful for nations that experience
    political crisis to mainstream HIV prevention
    education and care within their humanitarian and
    or evacuation efforts, thus limiting the rates of
    violence and HIV infections that accompany civil
    strife.
  • There is need for extra vigilance and more
    innovations by civil society groups that work in
    communities that experience political crisis, so
    as to have better mitigation activities directed
    to address effects of political crisis and sexual
    violence against women and girls.
  • THANK YOU ALL.
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