In light of V-Day observation worldwide, I thought about what it means in an international context and perhaps to give you a sense of V-Day around the world, here is an example.Feel free to pass this on to your networks.
According to a 2003 report by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), one in three women around the world will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
In 2004, the brutal rape and murder of a two year old in Kikuyu, Kenya, inspired V-Day 2004 organizers in Nairobi to organize to raise money for the Nairobi Women’s Hospital in Nairobi, which is the only private health care provider in Kenya catering to the needs of women.The story, which made headlines on all the local press, shocked the everyone by the sheer magnitude of its brutality. “Investigations are on going but by V-Day 2004, they had not arraigned anyone in court on the charges. Earlier in 2004, the papers once again highlighted the story of another minor who had been brutally raped by a neighbor. The little girl survived her ordeal and the man guilty of the crime was swiftly apprehended and convicted of defiling a minor and got a life sentence,” says Lorna Irungu, a thespian and the V-Day 2004 Nairobi Organizer.That year, the Vagina Monologues show which was held at the Carnivore Restaurant In Nairobi raised Ksh 305,607 (US$ 5055.64)
2008 began with some of the darkest days in Kenyan history, when post elections violence gripped the country in fear and silently the mass rape of women and children began, amid the chaos. As Kenya counts the human and material cost of the political violence, hospitals are reporting an increase in reported rapes during the immediate post-election period, spurring the government and health organizations to find ways to treat these cases as well as protect the displaced from further incidents of sexual violence.
“In the first two days of the violence, 56 people were treated for rape and admitted; there are so many other victims back in the slums who have not received any medical attention,” Lucy Kiama, chief nurse at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital.Other cases are in the areas where internally displaced people live, where they are out of reach of law enforcement officers, and the first targets of mounting frustration and anger. The Nairobi Women’s Hospital Gender Violence Recovery Center, is part of treatment and counseling efforts for those most affected by the violence. The need is much more dire right now, particularly for rape kits, which are now standard in routine medical checks, and post-HIV exposure prophylaxis kits.
Urgent Action Fund-Africa has supported The Nairobi Women’s Hospital to set up 4 crisis response centres (Women’s Gender Recovery Unit s) in Mathare, Huruma, Jamhuri Park and Kibera to provide shelter, security, and more importantly medical and psychological care to rape victims who are unable to access the services because the informal settlements have been sealed off by security personnel and violent protestors.The hospital is now FULL; it has dealt with 19 cases in the last 24 hours. There are 75,000 displaced people in Jamhuri park alone, majority of whom are women and children. Total numbers of displaced Kenyans has topped 300,000 and growing daily.
In 2006 I performed as part of the V-Day cast here and my piece was titled ” My Vagina Was my Village” retelling the account of a woman who was brutally attacked during the 1993 Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict, as told to Eve Ensler, founder of the V-Day global campaign. Never would I have imagined that such brutality would reach my home country Kenya, and never in such a widely executed manner. My voice is just one, but there is need for more people to respond to violence against women everywhere.
As a Kenyan, I am especially encouraging women to attend the upcoming “V-Day” events such as the Vagina Monologues not only to understand and spread awareness of post-election violence against women in Kenya, but in the United States and other parts of the world. I urge you to join in making more people aware of the violence against women in our communities and regions globally.
You can find ways to help, including:
a) Giving to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital Gender Violence Recovery Center
and supporting women-led peace building initiatives in Kenya that are underway.
b) Supporting the Urgent Action Fund