There is need to protect vulnerable African women

Posted on May 15, 2013 10:28 pm

By this time, you must have heard or read the shocking story of six young women in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa that were caught filming a pornographic movie funded by a Swedish national.  That case has cemented the public belief that there is rise in sexual violence in Kenya and across the continent. Kenya is by far one of the top three countries with freest media in the whole of Africa and I’m certain in most other African countries such a story would not have even made it to the newsroom let alone the public domain. The violence against women has been a major cause of concern for the government, community leaders and parents alike. It is wholly unacceptable that continent’s most vulnerable members of society are violated so easily as has just happened in Kenya, the East Africa’s biggest economy.

Data and statistics available show a worrying escalation of the number of sexual abuse cases across the continent. Last year, the there were more than 100,000 reports on violence against women, half of which were sexual abuse. Unfortunately, the number is expected to rise this year with 62 percent as sexual abuse. Since the beginning of this year alone, there have been more than 10,000 cases of violence against women that have been reported to police in 26 countries according to various women protection agencies. One of the agency say this is just the tip of the iceberg, with thousands more cases going unreported, especially if the perpetrators are family members or close friends as it happened with last week widely publicized case in Ohio, United States.

The Kenyan case sexual abuse is just one of the many cases involving young and vulnerable women in Africa which is totally unacceptable. Enforcement of existing laws should be hastened and changes made to make punishment for such crimes more severe to deter would be perpetrators. To stop the violence against women, public must involve the government, community leaders and parents. Such initiatives led to the arrest of Swedish national and his accomplices. African women also need to change their mindsets and view such incidents like Mombasa one as an act of shame to the family and society. However, the same case is an indicator that thousands of innocent young women lives are at stake if nothing will be done. Sexual abuse of women is not a private family matter. It is public concern that should involve all of us who care about a better and just society.

Contador Harrison