International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence

From where I stand: “I am a father and I have daughters. I do not want to see their rights denied or limited just because they are girls”

Sexual and gender-based violence is a problem of significant magnitude in Kenya. 39% of women aged 15-49 and who have ever been married, reported experiencing either physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner or spouse

Date: Thursday, November 30, 2017

Charles Kosgei, a religious leader and male champion on GBV issues. Photo: UN Women/ Kenney Okoth

Charles Kosgei, a religious leader and male champion on GBV issues. Photo: UN Women/ Kenney Okoth

Sexual and gender-based violence is a problem of significant magnitude in Kenya. 39% of women aged 15-49 and who have ever been married, reported experiencing either physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner or spouse according to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014. Charles Kosgei a Catechist (Christian teacher) at a local church in Kapkuptoro, Kericho County, teaching men and women about positive masculinities and encouraging them to reject the normalization of violence.

“As a catechist, I teach the members of my community through the church. It gives me a chance to teach men and boys about positive masculinities, and about the roles and behaviours that are considered normal or acceptable [by the society], but are [in reality] harmful for women and girls. We talk about patriarchy and the negative effect of violence against women…and why we need [to learn] to coexist peacefully.

I also inform women and girls so that they can identify the various forms of violence [they often experience]. Most of them have been exposed to harmful and repressive cultural norms that tolerate such violence and [they think this is normal]. Frequently, women and girls do not report sexual violence to the authorities because of stigma.  By reporting the violence they experienced, they can become victims all over again, because the community blames them and stigmatizes them.

I educate the public on the laws that exist in the country and requirements by the church that do not condone violence. In sensitizing the public, I make sure that they are aware of the consequences of sexual violence. Through the knowledge I and other colleagues received from organizations like FEMNET, we now understand the crucial role of men in ending gender based violence—initially issues of gender based violence were considered to be women problems but now I can stand up and openly speak out to other men and the community members.

We must say no to regressive cultural practices and ideas that demean women if we are to tackle the issue of gender-based violence. I am a father and I have daughters. I do not want to see their rights denied or limited just because they are girls. We are all human beings.”

 

Charles Kosgei, aged 43, is a Catechist in his local church in Kapkuptoro, Kericho County in Rift Valley region of Kenya, and a father of five [three daughters and two sons]. He is among 254 men in Kericho County who are trying to change mindsets and raise awareness within rural communities after participating in a sensitization training through the Changamkia Haki Project implemented by Femnet and supported by UN Women. The project, FUNDED BY Unilever, targeted men from rural areas in 10 wards within Kericho County where intimate partner violence was particularly high. Kosgei’s story is related to Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and its target on ending violence against women and girls.