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Kenya: women in the slum too scared to go to toilets!

Women and girls in Kenya's urban informal settlements (slum areas) not only have to deal with the daily struggles of providing for their families, fighting off diseases as a result of poor living conditions but are now also vulnerable to physical and sexual violence.

A recent report released by Amnesty International says that these women fear going out at night to use toilets and bathrooms which are few and far from their houses because they fear being raped. They are therefore subjected to using undignified methods like the famous flying toilets - use of plastic bags to keep human excreta overnight before being thrown away, creating yet another health hazard.

In addition, due to lack of bathrooms, the women bath in the full view of their family members and neighbours rendering them vulnerable to sexual abuse. Many of these women have already been abused and some have been infected by the HIV virus especially after being gang raped.

"whenever I want to take a bath, I tell people in the house to go outside for a few minutes, I cannot risk going out there and getting raped" says one woman from Kibera.

Other than the lack of sanitation facilities, the slum areas also have no police protection; for instance in Kibera, a slum of over a million inhabitants has no single police post/station!

The women also say that the major threat to them is violence within the confines of their home where perpetrators include family members,their spouses and partners. An official of a non-governmental women's legal aid centre in Kibera says they receive up to 10 cases of domestic violence every week -- mostly women beaten up or raped by their spouses.

This is worrying, especially to those of us championing for a better world for all the women. We need to lobby for the Government of Kenya to ensure that these women get basic sanitation facilities like toilets and bathrooms - and they can do this by ensuring that the landlords in the slum areas build pit latrines in well lit and easily accessible areas near the houses.

Secondly, there is need to increase police protection in crime prone slum areas. Not only do these women need protection but they have to report these cases when they happen for the perpetrator to be stopped, and when they have to travel long distances to report such happenings, then they would rather not do it. Reporting to the police doesn't make the experience less painful but at least its a process in ensuring that justice is served.

But further on, it is important to improve community policing if the country's resources cannot avail a police post. Lets strengthen community policing in these areas and protect our women. No woman should face any kind of violence, it leaves a mark that is hard to erase. Lets protect our women. Let's all condemn violence against women!.

For more information read

and the full report:


jadefrank's picture

For the women of Kibera

Dear Linda,

Thank you for participating in the Action GBV campaign here on PulseWire and for raising your voice against gender based violence. It's important to hear about and discuss the common cases of GBV in different countries and cultures, as well as to share ideas and methods for combating the violence.

Hearing about the daily fears of women in places like Kibera where leaving their homes to use the bathroom or public wash is a threat to their safety - are the realities that will drive us to action.

Community policing is a good place to start. What are other ways that we can protect women in places like Kibera?

In solidarity,

LOGWELL's picture

Yes community policing is a

Yes community policing is a good start...I also came across some interesting initiative being undertaken by a local organization , where women are being trained on self defense tactics and women from all ages ranging from 15 year old girls to 70 year old grandmas are learning how to protect themselves from unarmed assailants. this is a start in the fight to stop rape of women in these areas and I hope we can come up with more initiatives to help our sisters , mothers and grandmothers!


Nusrat Ara's picture

What is the government doing,

What is the government doing, SLEEPING.


LOGWELL's picture

Hi Nusrat, Unfortunately most

Hi Nusrat,

Unfortunately most of our Governments in Africa turn a blind eye to the problems of its people and without intense lobbying and advocacy, nothing really get done. Thats why we have forums like this to raise our voices and be heard out there!



monimambo's picture


I broke in tears when I read about this in one of the dailies, what a shame?
Its unthinkable when we are talking of attaining millennium development goals by 2015 and yet as a state we cant be able to provide some basic things.
Am really ashamed to be Kenyan. This women are our sisters, not only are they at risk when they go out, there are times when people break into their own home since their houses are not permanent structures, some are muddy, others use iron sheets and they are not safe at all. The slum areas are most prone to HIV due to their life styles.
People are not able to afford big houses and there is no privacy, children are exposed to all sorts of things.
Am calling upon the government to move in and rescue this people in slums so that we can have proper housing, lighting and have security.
I also call upon women groups to come in and help out where they can since they understand this best.
Its a shame when our members of parliament voted for an increase in their salaries so as to earn 1.2million Kenya shillings yet there are people lacking basic social amenities, shame on them. This money should instead be diverted to making these people's lives better by providing proper housing, its the least the government can do.


LOGWELL's picture

Hi Monimambo, It is a real

Hi Monimambo,

It is a real shame that we have failed our fellow human beings and closed our eyes to their suffering because of great and selfishness. This report was a wake-up call to all of use on the kind of relationship we have with our 'neighbour'. The neglect by the Government is a reason for all of us to raise our voices in solidarity with these women who have to live under this inhuman conditions, stripped bare of their dignity. Lets continue highlighting the plight of our fellow women and advocate for a better life for each and every woman in this planet.



olutosin's picture

My prayers

May it wake us up, that is just my prayer. Women are so much in suffering over little things that our government can just spend the money they usually use to feed 'the boys on' what they will loose is just a day out of the beer parlor/roasted meat joints.....They value those things than human beings, at least we are not their blood members......We go survive.
Thanks for this post friend.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


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