Violence Against Women is taking root in most parts of the country and the perpetrators are viewing it as a normal practice in a family or community. The victims always end up suffering in the hands of their husbands, boyfriends and siblings who ignore the fact that the act is violating some human rights and the inflicted pain on the victim can be dangerous.
According to a research done by Africa Alliance of YMCAs in Mombasa and Kilifi, most teenagers believe that if a male partner hits a lady, then that’s not considered as Violence Against Women. But 51% of the 15 to 18 year old teenagers that were interviewed believe that violence inflicted to a woman by a stranger is considered Violence Against Women. And among 25 to 35 year old respondents that were interviewed believed that forced marriage is the highest form of violence.
In West Pokot, a region where culture drives the morals and the activities practiced by the people has a high number of Violence Against Women. The communities in the region have less girls in schools because they believe in some outdated cultural practices like female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early and forced marriages. Ideally, men dominate the decision-making processes within the society, and a council of elders is responsible for maintenance of law and order, security, social disputes, ceremonies, and decisions regarding agriculture and livestock. Their ways of life has made it possible for polygamous arrangements to prosper and wealth is also derived from the number of wives a man has.
Yohana Simbol, a resident in West Pokot has eight children and grandchildren who face many challenges in regards to education and influence from retrogressive cultural practices. He has worked day and night to see that his children and grandchildren have gone to school and he gives them support every time they are faced with difficulties along the way.
“I support girl child education in the region because they are the ones who will change West Pokot and make it a great region in the country. I do my best to see that my girls receive the best in life.” Simbol said.
He believes in the law and the children rights stipulated in the constitution and he works towards influencing his neighbors and teaching his kids on the importance of education and self-sustenance despite the fact that he faces financial constraints and his daughter was married to a violent husband at an early age.
“When my daughter came to me and begged to continue with her education after she divorced her husband…I was very happy because education is more important than early marriages and livestock. It instills knowledge and in the long run they will buy food and provide shelter for the family members.” Simbol added.
To support his children, he sold his goats and some of his property to pay school fees and buy books. “Kids have the right to demand for education and livestock cannot be compared to education. Livestock is good but it doesn’t have considerable profit that’s why I have decided to sell some of my property in order to take my daughter to school.” Simbol said.
His daughter, Dorcas Simbol (26) has three kids – two boys and a girl. She got her first kid in 2005 after finishing her primary education. At the time she was still living with the parents and life became harder at home then she got married and started living with the husband in 2010. The marriage wasn’t filled with roses and chocolates. She faced many challenges since the husband was abusive and she didn’t have the freedom to do anything in their home.
“My husband was very abusive to me. He kept on insulting me that I’m not learned and I’m too black. The marriage was too abusive for me and one day he wanted to kill me.”
The challenges were unbearable for her and she couldn’t handle the abusive marriage. She divorced the husband and went back to her parents where she was welcomed by her father. Her father saw the need of taking her to high school ignoring the fact that she’s a mother of three kids. It was a bold step considering the fact that he has a huge family to take care of.
Dorcas joined the Sigor Mixed Secondary School but she couldn’t cope with school and family since the secondary was a day school and she had to take care of the family in the evening and concentrate on her studies during the day. She then requested her father to take her to a boarding school where she could give more effort in her education. Her father was happy with the idea and he took her to St. Elizabeth which is a boarding school.
Dorcas was able to learn in a comfortable environment and she completed her secondary education and later she was rescued by Global Give Back Circle who gave her mentorship and training in Agribusiness, cookery, hairdressing and entrepreneurship.
“I want to thank my family members, Global Give Back Circle for believing in me because I have the ability of taking care of my family.” Dorcas concluded.
Simbol’s family in pictures