Survey by Amnesty international has shown that in some low-income estates located in Kisumu, young girls accept as little as Sh10 in exchange for sex.
The survey also shows that sexual violations among the girls in the area are endemic due to poverty, culture and ignorance of the law.
Speaking on Tuesday, AIK executive director Justus Nyangaya decribed the findings as “robbing young girls of their dignity.” It is also discovered that many cases of gender-based violence, especially sexual violation, go unreported due to ‘local negotiations’.
Also, in fear of stigmatization, families of the victims decline to report the cases to protect the family name and community reputation.
Moreover, ‘local solutions’ do not serve justice, which lets the suspects go free, thereby forcing victims to live with the stigma for the rest of their lives.
Easter Achieng, a Kisumu-based gender rights crusader, reported cases of ‘sex for fish’ where fishermen decline to sell fish to women who refused to give them sex.
She also noted that many young girls give into the shaming offer to obtain money or food to fend for their families. Achieng pointed out that ignorance of laws that criminalize sexual offenses weakens the battle to root out gender-based violence.
“Many perpetrators are not aware they are breaking the law since some cultures tacitly encouraged seizure of a woman for marriage, to a man who was interested in her,”
She explained that cultures which more or less regard women as sexual objects to satisfy men’s animal urges have continued without any reduction in intensity despite the law and changes modernization has brought. The Kisumu-based gender rights crusader further stated that some men take advantage of economic hardships in the city’s low income estates and pay as little as KSh 10 to have their way with young girls.
To cut-down this deplorable act, Amnesty, in partnership with Canadian High Commission, have devised a means to enable locals in low-income neighborhoods “map, record, document, report and continuously monitor cases of gender-based violence.”
AIK executive director Justus Nyangaya said:
“Because people get away with these kind of crimes easier than any other type, we want all cases of gender-based violence recorded, documented, reported to relevant authorities and aggressively monitored to ensure justice is done,”
“Where the victim’s family is compromised, we urge that such cases proceed through formal justice processes since the crime committed is not just against the family but also against the state.”
In 2015, BBC reported that the rate of HIV infection in Kisumu increased almost 15 per cent, twice the national average at the time, and it was mostly caused by “sex for fish”.
But amid the practice, some traders had aligned themselves to a self-empowerment programme for the direct management of their trade in fish – a project run by a local charity called Vired supported by the US Peace Corps.
The programme is reforming a handful of women in the area. Dan Abuto from the charity speaking on the project, said:
“Sex for fish is very dangerous because every day we realise that people are dying from HIV and Aids,’.
“We need to ignite these women, to empower them so they can take charge of their destiny. We are very proud because it’s having a positive impact.”
Achieng also called on everybody of all genders to stand up against sexual violations as women’s dignity was central to the fight against poverty and backwardness.