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: