The International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict launched in Nairobi on Friday, May 18 with a march through the city's core. The event was organized by Kenya's Campaign Committee:
Physicians for Human Rights - Kenya
Green Belt Movement
African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
National Gender and Equality Commission
The Kenya Clean Campaign
Federation of Women's Lawyers (FIDA - Kenya)
Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA)
The CAUCUS for Women LEadership
International Peace Initiative
Wangu Kanja Foundation
Led by rally car driver Ben Muchemi, the procession of over 400 people marched past Kenya's Parliament and to Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park. Local grassroots activists, politicians, and media gathered for the march, which featured entertainment from a marching band.
Participants gathered for multiple speakers who addressed the Campaign's focus in Kenya and the widespread rape which occurred during the country's last elections. Speakers included Campaign Coordinator Yee Htun, Finish Ambassador Sofie From-Emmesberger, Police Spokesperson Eric Kiraithe, Maina Kiai - Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Assembly and Association, Lady Justice Effie Owur, and Lady Justice Njoki Ndungu.
A justice in the Supreme Court, Ndungu wrote out her public pledge for the Campaign telling the gathered audience, "Rape should really be called differently. It is not just rape, but rather robbery with extreme violence. If I get robbed today and my purse gets taken, I can re-buy it and report it and maybe even prosecute. But if a woman is raped, she loses something she can never get back."
Survivors of rape shared their testimonies and a statement on behalf of all survivors of gender violence in Kenya was read out by Wangu Kanja. The ceremony ended with the planting of a tree of peace for the late Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai, who was a strong advocate against gender violence.
In 2007, Kenya was thrust into widespread post-election violence, with significant rape and gender violence throughout the country. Local activists are mobilizing ahead of the 2013 elections, calling for gender violence to remain a priority security issue and ensure a fair election without violence. Learn more about the conflict and gender violence in Kenya.