Edmund Rice Eldoret Empowerment project: ‘End Rape Culture’ Walk and Fashion Gala
The Edmund Rice Eldoret Empowerment project (EREEP) operates in the Langas community in Eldoret, Kenya. EREEP empowers girls through life-skills workshops and clubs so that girls have a safe space to voice their concerns, advocate for their rights and receive the support they need to stay in school. The project also works with the teacher, parents and schools to build their capacity to support girls in the community. Through engagement with the girls, parents and teachers, it was identified that Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) was identified as one of the challenges affecting girls in the community, where 1 in 2 women reported that they or a woman they know experienced a form of violence since the pandemic. However, it remains the most underreported crime in the Langas area. There is reluctance by many survivors to officially report violations due to fears of repeated violence, uncertainty if action will be taken and lack of accountability as traditional court systems are often used to settle most allegations.
EREEP works in partnership with FABWIL CARE, which provides services to survivors of rape and works to strengthen the response of the legal and health systems in the area. Together they facilitated the ‘End Rape Culture’ campaign to advocate for change and to raise awareness on SGBV. In July, the campaign held sensitizations forums through two secondary schools and two colleges reaching about 300 youth. Additionally, a Mtaani (Community) sensitization reached about 100 local community members, and a 5km Walk through the Eldoret central business district saw over 300 participants distributing information brochures and placards, and engaging people on the street. These campaign initiatives cumulated in the ‘End Rape Culture’ Fashion Gala with a turnout of over 250 people. The event creatively showcased the rights of girls and women through fashion and culture. The programme included a moment for candle lighting for victims of SGBV, conversations on culture focusing on the Kalenjin Culture (where the projects are based) and its influence on SGBV and girls rights, and interactions with specialist health workers.
‘It has been overwhelming to interact with the community on issues of sexual and gender-based violence, seeing how the community still has so much to do to address SGBV, acknowledging their inadequate information on SGBV and see them open up on how victim blaming, shaming and silencing in the community is one of the rape cultures that keeps on giving perpetrators their freedom.’ - Clalffin Achimba, EREEP Programme Officer
The ‘End Rape Culture’ campaign has been effective in achieving its goals. It has challenged attitudes towards SGBV and linked the community and girls to support systems in hospitals and child services. It also engaged relevant authorities in an effort to influence girls’ lives so that they can pursue their rights in a supportive environment and advocated for change to stop discriminatory practices such as silencing victims of abuse. Many thanks to Misean Cara for supporting this critical project.