Survivors Network

BACKGROUND 

Wangu Kanja Foundation is a nonprofit organization that I founded WFK in 2005 after going through a rape ordeal in 2002. It focuses on promoting prevention, protection and response in ending sexual violence in the country. Our Vision is towards a society that is safe and free from all forms of violence.

The foundation is the convener of the Survivors of Sexual Violence in Kenya Network that bring together survivors of sexual violence, women and men to amplify their voices towards restoring their dignity while access justice in a timely manner. The Network is anchored within the already existing community structures for purposes of ensuring innovation and sustainability in the long run

We have developed the first ever mobile application “SV_CaseStudy” available on Google play store and will enhance report, document and track or monitor cases of sexual violence in Kenya. This in the long run will improve response by different stakeholders in the access to justice referral pathway and reduce corruption incidences. 

Survivors of Sexual Violence: Accessing Justice and Restoring Dignity to Survivors

When we speak of gender we are referring to men and women as well as boys and girls. However, gender biases and inequalities predominantly and critically affect women. Gender stereotypes also pose restrictions and risks for men. They can limit men’s potential and enjoyment of their roles as affectionate and supportive partners, husbands, fathers and sons, and as role models of non-violence and tolerance. Transforming the way boys and men are socialised and relate to girls and women is essential. Based on this, engaging with men and boys as partners for advancing gender equality is a cross cutting aspect throughout the Strategic Plan 2018 - 2022.

Projections To Achieve The Goals Over The Five (5) Year Period: 
  • Equitable, healthy relationships in which women, men, girls and boys can enjoy their freedom to express themselves without fear of violence discrimination or social exclusion;

  • Robust, vibrant and all-encompassing organisations that are able to stimulate transformative agenda in relation to sexual violence;

  • Men, boys, institutions and communities that understand Sexual Violence (SV) and act to prevent it in both public and private spheres;

  • A government, private sector and civil society that is supported and held accountable for delivering on their commitments to offering comprehensive care and support to survivors of sexual violence;

  • Engaging with men in decision making positions, cultural and religious institutions for socio cultural transformation to avoid stigma and discrimination meted on survivors of sexual violence;

  • Making men and boys part of transformation process to champion enforcement of all existing laws and policies that protect and promote the rights of women and girls, seeking to scuttle perceptions, myths and stereotypes surrounding sexual violence.

Priorities And Principles

This Strategic Plan 2018 - 2022 is based on four main principles:

  • Inclusion and responsiveness to diversities: Promote human rights, including the rights of women and girls by addressing the social and structural determinants of sexual violence. We hope to significantly expand our work to ensure that the government, human rights bodies and the private sector meet their obligations to human rights and do no harm principle.  We will engage in public debates, through Court Users Committee (CUC) meetings, County and Sub-County GBV working groups and any other platform where survivors’ voices can be amplified as well as ongoing internal and external capacity building, related to the structural linkages between gender, cultural practices, and other socio-economic factors.

  • Participation and partnership: We will build new partnerships with a wider range of actors who drive social change. We shall endeavour to strengthen the coalitions and engage with other stakeholders to support survivors of SV and unpack the gender norms and pervasive socio-cultural issues that perpetuate SV.

  • Knowledge generation and capacity building: We will enhance knowledge generation and dissemination – by developing and implementing collaborative ways of working which engage multiple perspectives in defining communal problems and questions that pertain to prevention and response to SV. We will develop appropriate gender based indicators for generating knowledge and strengthening the capacity of individuals and institutions to create a stigma free environment for survivors of SV. This will include provision of training and awareness on laws and policy for addressing SV.

  • Engagement in dynamic policy environments for sustainability: We will be unwavering in engaging with policy, institutional processes that are shifting and multi-faceted. This will also include analysis and interpretation of sex- disaggregated data that can then be used to develop survivor-centered action plans. 

Communication About Sexual Violence

SSV_Ke will lay the groundwork to ensure that partner organisations better respond to the needs and protect the rights of the survivors with increased investment in community based interventions, stronger partnerships and improved integration of survivors in programming. There is need for leveraging on the resources by ensuring multi-dimensional and multidisciplinary approach to service delivery is in place at a structural level. To this end, we shall work together to support survivors and ensure family and community-based approach is takenbyincluding the wider community in programmes and projects, not only survivors but as key actors who must be involved in finding solutions to their common problems.

Additionally, SSV_Ke will work to ensure the provision of emotional, psychological and psychosocial support, economic and civic participation for survivors of SV, without limiting responses to sectors that only respond to psychosocial needs but also comprehensive care and support among other needs. At the heart of our efforts, will be the recognition that survivors are not a homogenous group and will have different needs and priorities and that ‘one incident is one too many’. Without exception, no survivor should ever be blamed or criminalized. Culturally relevant and localised prevention and response to stigma and discrimination will be enhanced by helping the survivors to break the silence and speak out. In a nutshell, the movement will aim at amplification and unification of voices at all levels.

History And Background          

Addressing Sexual Violence (SV) requires collaboration amongst local, international stakeholders and like-minded organisations, who can provide medical, legal, safety and security, psychosocial and community support services. This is then enhanced by building the capacity of individuals and systems to address the root causes of SV through a coordinated, integrated multi-disciplinary approach. For instance, conflict related forms of SV require long-range strategies that are timely and consistent with the country situation. All stakeholders are duty bound to provide strengthened security platforms for reduction of harm and stigma resulting from SV during peace and conflict times. We cannot wait to react when we can act now to stop the potential suffering of those most in need and as the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. The role of the different stakeholders i.e. health, safety and security, legal, psychosocial support, media including community leaders cannot be gainsaid.

Kenya is still in need of support from the international community to be able to effectively deal with its own internal problems as well as conflict situations emanating from the disquiet in her neighbouring countries. The effects of conflict on women, men and children include economic hardship, loss of property, displacement, loss of family member(s), personal injury or experience of sexual violence, trauma and high levels of psychological stress. These realities should help to inform and drive policy development and interventions that ensure support to survivors of SV and their families. SV survivors of conflict related gender violence in Kenya are a concerned group of citizens. The international community continues to define Kenya as a country that is not affected by conflict and as such little investment is made in challenging conflict related sexual violence and other forms of gender based violence. In many settings, survivors have no access to even the most minimal health and psychosocial support during conflict and peace time, leaving them vulnerable to a wide spectrum of potential negative health outcomes, including HIV & AIDS.

Preventing stigma and discrimination resulting from Sexual Violence (SV) is rendered complex by a number of factors, including its cross-cutting multi-sectoral nature and because it reflects some deeply-rooted aspects of culture and social practices. Over the years, there has been an increasing trend of Sexual Violence (SV) amongst communities in Kenya against the backdrop of the “culture of silence”. Consequently, violence against women and girls has been inadvertently attributed to the country’s patriarchal culture. Even though Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have successfully mobilized and galvanized political support, and increased levels of public awareness for the implementation of key legislative and policy reforms, there still remain a number of bottlenecks especially when it comes to access to services and justice for survivors of SV. Practical implementation of existing regulatory framework to protect and assist victims/ survivors is either non-existing or non-systemic. Professional development training for service-providers, state and non-state actors i.e. police, judiciary, social workers, teachers, public servants etc. remains for the most part adhoc, unsustainable, and non-specialized.

Sexual Violence victims/ survivors are among the most at risk groups for HIV & AIDS and other serious health concerns, transactional sex, human trafficking and manipulation, extremism and radicalisation. Additionally, there seems to be lack of attention to the socio-economic integration and re-integration of survivors of SV. The complaint, accountability, redress and enforcement mechanisms needed to protect and enforce survivors’ human rights are weak and/or sometimes non-existent. Initiating legal procedures against a perpetrator is cumbersome, long and not survivor-friendly. Once having entered the legal process, there is inadequate protection for the survivor (from continued abuse or threat of violence by the perpetrator and their allies including friends and family) during the course of the civil/ criminal proceedings. Sanctions for the perpetrators of family and SV are limited and considered relatively low given the long-term impact of harm incurred by the survivor and society at-large.

SSV_Ke’s Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022:    

This Strategic Plan has been developed to respond to current national and global trends, experiences and the existing environments in which the SSV_Ke and its members operate. Through a methodical analysis of key trends and realities, strategic priorities, have been developed with a focus and projection for the next five (5) years 2018 – 2022. This Strategic Plan:

Provides: The blueprint and focus for SSV_Ke, other networks and civil society organizations (CSOs), the mass media and the private sector; in the efforts to build institutional capacity to undertake the functions outlined herein. The structure permits adaptable response to national and global priorities and needs of survivors of Sexual Violence and their families.

Recognising: The histories of collective resistance and resilience in the face of oppression and that ending sexual violence is essential to creating a safe and just world for all people.

Believing: In the power of authentic relationships to foster and sustain social change and that ending sexual violence is possible.  There is need to listen to the voices of the survivors and to maximize on the opportunities as they emerge.

Articulates: Commitments to take the lead role in promoting efforts towards advancing the non-discrimination agenda including combating Sexual Violence (SV) in diverse communities. Attention will be focused on creating awareness and sensitizing communities on their role in curbing incidences of SV and encouraging them to offer requisite support to survivors of SV in their localities with regards, prevention, protection, response and prosecution.

Builds: On the momentum gained in the last few years, which have provided opportunities for identifying implementation gaps and challenges with regards to prevention and response to SV. The Strategic Plan thus sets out to narrow these gaps in the context of SSV_Ke’s priorities, and in partnership with other stakeholders. 

Driven: By a longer-term vision, goals and results to 2022, to be reviewed in the last quarter of 2020. This is to allow for alignment with the strategic planning cycles of other partners and funding agencies.

Focuses: On results, indicators and targets allowing SSV_Ke to assess its performance and contributions at national, regional and global levels. In so doing, it attempts to ensure synergies to drive meaningful social change in how SSV_Ke responds centered on the evaluation of beneficiaries’ expectations in the next five (5) years.

Feasibility: All propositions of the strategic directions suggested have been considered thoroughly, implementation is conceivable, and all supporting goals; objectives and strategies are realistic, practically achievable, rational and comprehensive.

Sustainability: The strategic directions proposed are aligned with the SSV_Ke’s guiding principles and are clearly expressed, management is adequately resourced and well prepared and are of a nature and quality that should ensure the future by building partnerships with the government, community and other social justice movements at the national and global levels.

Rationale:

To bring together survivors of SV to share their life experiences in a safe, therapeutic non-threatening environment that encourages confidentiality, healing, care, support and reporting of SV cases. Consequently, the movement will provide a platform for a national discourse on sex, sexuality and sexual violence. This will be geared towards finding ways for strengthening and consolidating the unity of purpose, strengthening resilience amongst survivors and to ensure that their voices are heard and heeded.

Vision:          

A nation free from sexual violence, stigma and discrimination.

Mission        

Facilitate the creation of a national movement to demand the necessary changes to end sexual violence and achieve justice for women, men, girls and boys in all communities.

Overall Goal:        

A dependable and strong national survivors support movement that can amplify the voices of the survivors to access comprehensive care and support, hold the duty bearers accountable and mobilize resources to ensure sustainability of the movement.

Specific Objectives:          

1.        Create a safe space and environment for survivors to tell their stories and share experiences without fear of discrimination or stigma;

2.        Provide information and communicate with the members of the public and survivors/victims of SV on the availability and access to comprehensive care and support services, access to justice and other available resources financial or in kind;

3.        Mobilize resources (both human and financial) to support and sustain initiatives and interventions by the movement members towards fighting stigma and discrimination;

4.        Conduct research and be a point of reference for the legal justice system, donors and development partners for ensuring that survivors voices are heard and heeded;

5.        Provide a platform for mentorship, coaching and a space for creating awareness on the rights of survivors and for encouraging attitudinal change amongst community members.

Impact of the Actions

Survivors of sexual violence in Kenya are faced with innumerable challenges including limited funding for service provision and coordinate support programs, uncoordinated and disjointed interventions which have led to duplication of efforts among others. The coming together of the survivors from different counties to form a survivors’ movement is intended to help in amplifying their voices, enhancing knowledge and tapping of skills including pooling of resources towards a common agenda which is the elimination of sexual violence in Kenya. The approach incorporates an understanding that these processes do not operate in a vacuum and that there are similarities in both challenges encountered and successes achieved across the board that can be shared. There are various areas of synergy such as: research, gender justice, media coverage of the SV cases (including case studies for jurisprudence), community mobilisation and participation, lobbying and advocacy, survivor support, the creation of an effective secretariat amongst many others.

Sexual violence affects women, men and children different ways. Women and girls have faced – and continue to face – substantial, disproportionate levels of SV and other gender related violations. These discriminations are majorly due to negative socialization. SSV_Ke recognises the fact that a gender equal world guarantees benefits to all members of the society. Therefore, gender-based injustices and rights violations are a major component and key targets of its work. As a joint initiative, SSV_Ke is putting in place measures to multiply the scope of its activism, awareness raising and advocacy to challenge and eliminate all forms of gender injustices and more so sexual violence. It is also important that the lessons learnt are understood as part of the wider interactions that are necessary to address SV, gender discrimination and human rights violations targeted at women, men, girls and boys.

Core Values           
  • Inclusion & Non-discrimination: Enhance survivors of sexual violence participation in all prevention, protection, response and prosecution efforts in the country;

  • Confidentiality: Ensure respect and dignity of the survivors and their families;

  • Integrity and Accountability: Expedite access to justice and ensure improved and quality services for survivors including holding perpetrators of sexual violence liable;

  • Responsibility: Hold the state accountable to safeguard the rights of survivors of sexual violence through increased funding for prevention, protection and response initiatives across the country

Specific areas of work for 2018 – 2022: 
  • Prevention and behaviour change:  Focus heavily and invest strategically in prevention through awareness creation aimed at reducing all forms of Sexual Violence (SV) in Kenya. This will be done by strengthening the institutions and organizations working on SV initiatives.  Central to this will be the need to address structural issues i.e. stigma and discrimination and engage in changing community attitude towards survivors of SV;

  • Response to ensure access to comprehensive care and support: Engage duty bearers and increase their understanding and commitment to addressing SV, as part of the national agenda. Recognise and ensure full implementation of existing non-stigmatising standards and protections, and that these are meaningfully applied in relation to stigma.Increasing knowledge of availability and improved accessibility of quality services for survivors of sexual violence will also be a core part of the activities of the movement;

  • Accountability, restorative and transitional justice:  Awareness creation and sensitization to enhance reporting, performance, clear institutional arrangements and management systems. Efforts will be made to ensure scaling up of services and interventions that guarantee that survivors of SV can access justice and seek legal redress. Consequently, we shall hold duty bearers accountable to ensure the definition of justice is not narrowed to legal processes and takes account of what the individual survivor/victim considers justice to be. Additionally, research and archiving of cases for purposes of reference and future prosecutions will a major component of our engagement in ensuring accountability at all levels.;

  • Lobbying, advocacy and networking: Ensure the engagement of survivors in policy formulation, budgeting through an open and consultative process including holding duty bearers accountable to ensure comprehensive service delivery. This will require leveraging on the resources by ensuring multi-dimensional and multidisciplinary approach to service delivery is in place at a structural level;

  • Economic empowerment: Adopt an effective rights-based approach to all SV prevention and response efforts and expand investment in and institutionalization of survivor services including psychosocial care and support. Additionally, work towards identifying and strengthening existing economic empowerment programmes for survivors of SV.

Anticipated Strategic Results
  • Rights of the survivors of sexual violence are respected, upheld and realized through mapping of survivors, stakeholders and partners in local county and national levels;

  • Strengthened systems, partnerships and coordination to reflect its transformational agenda by ensuring comprehensive care and support for survivors of sexual violence at all levels;

  • Action taken by the government, civil society organisations, communities, families, individuals and other stakeholders to prevent Sexual Violence (SV), promote non-discrimination within human rights based and cause no harm approach;

  • Structural drivers of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence are addressed including accountability and obligation at all levels.