Combating Gender-based Violence In Mombasa

Chris Laming is in the Networklearning support committee. He has run courses in Australia for men who use domestic violence. The course is available to download from the Networklearning Library. Last summer he had the good chance to visit an NGO working in a programme against Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Mombasa, Kenya. The NGO is Coast Women in Development. He emailed us:

“I spent two days with the women who support victims of abuse, rape and incest and what they call defilement (the sexual abuse of a child). We went to the main prison and met with a group of men who have been convicted of sex offences of various kinds. At the end of the meeting, 12 of the 19 men opted to form a group/club to support each other and other men, to challenge gender-based violence.

The next day we went to the Borstal and a similar thing happened with nearly all of the 21 boys(aged 15 to 16) opting to join the group while they are in Borstal, and to continue once they are released. Their stories were moving and the women, whose key focus is to support and advocate for victims, are committed to start a programme for these boys and the men so that they can be rehabilitated back into the community. It is Badalika (Change)”.

Today, Betty Sharon of the Coast Women in Mombasa writes “Both the men's and boy's groups need regular visits and group therapy and more training on masculinity. Now they are working on their own experiences and they hope to turn their narratives into a book.

As for the boys, some have already left borstal and, because of a lack of funding, we are not able to do follow-ups, or even have them come to our offices. For the men, the prison has started one income-generating training with a plan to start up a Barber Shop. Fifteen men are involved. If it gets any further, the money generated would assist them in sustaining the project. We are trying to get funds (about two thousand dollars) to pay for the actual shop. The men have been visited regularly by our paralegals who have been volunteering since we started this project and contributing heavily to its success. Now some have requested that they be trained as paralegals specialising in Gender Based Violence prevention; they plan to use the training to create awareness in the prison before they finish their sentences.

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