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Gender Justice - Increasing awareness of human rights for all

In Turkana and Samburu, northern Kenya, Mothers’ Union is supporting women and their families who have run from domestic violence

29 Sep 2020

Susan* lives with her mother (who is blind) and her five children after she decided to run away from her husband due to regular beating and physical abuse. They live in a small hut and she takes care of her elderly mum as well as her children. Culturally in Turkana and Samburu, it's women who build and look after the house. She missed the chance to attend school after she was given for marriage at a young age. She usually makes and sells sweeping brooms as part of her income. She also does other casual jobs.

Proving support 
The church and Mothers’ Union assist Susan with prayers, encouragement, food and clothing. As part of the MU help, the members encourage Susan’s young girls to work hard in school and have purchased stationary for them so they can study.
As part of wider support, Alice, a Mothers’ Union Community Development Coordinator in Kenya, and some other members give over some space to the schoolchildren during the evenings to do their studies because they don’t have an environment in their homes that is conducive to them concentrating well.
Tackling violent culture
Gender-based violence (GBV) is accepted by some cultures, which encourages men to beat their wives as a sign of manhood. In almost all cultures in the area of Kenya that Alice is from, wife beating is accepted as a way of disciplining. Among the Turkana and Samburu tribes it's currently a cause of many broken marriages.
Currently in Alice’s parish there are several single mothers who are taking care of their children alone after running away from domestic violence. Other young girls have given birth out of wedlock maybe for fear of getting married because of how they have seen their mothers beaten.
The church and MU have a lot of work to do in creating awareness on these retrogressive cultural practices, but the good news is that Alice has already seen young girls refusing to be given out to be married by parents. One cause of GBV in this area is lack of understanding and awareness about human rights, which are God-given. As the MU, we are working hard to increase this awareness.
*Name changed and diocese undisclosed to protect identities
This article was first published in the Summer 2020 edition of Families First magazine. Copyright 2020 Mothers’ Union Enterprises Ltd.