A date with MS. President Season 2 Contestants

By Calvince Otieno

On Mashujaa Day as the country celebrated legendary heroes, Crime Si Poa (CSP) was honored to host 6 final contestants of Ms President’s TV Show Season 2, at the head office in Nairobi. The purpose of the visit was to prepare the contestants on the topic of National Security, by learning the work CSP is doing in reforming and transforming communities into crime-free societies.  

The contestants from across the country included Pauline Odongo, Siaya County, Nuru Muhame, Kwale County, Bina Maseno, Nairobi County, Milkah Righa, Taita Taveta, Fridah Karani, Embu County and Angela Mbuthia, Kiambu County.

Speaking during the session with 6 final contestants from the highly contested TV Show aired on KTN Home, Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Director at Crime Si Poa, shared programs Crime Si Poa is working on especially with collaboration with the criminal justice system and the contribution it has made on matters national security.

“We are excited to host the final female contestants of the Ms President show and discuss pertinent issues concerning national Security. We hope the conversation we had during this session will prepare them for future high-level public service roles, whether elective or appointive, and contribute to making this country a crime-free society,” said Sylvia.  

According to Sylvia, Crime Si Poa is a non-governmental organization, anchored on three pillars, Inform, Reform, and Transform, hence such partnership will contribute largely to fostering good leadership, governance, access to justice and rule of law at the grassroots level.

“Our key goal with other organizations who are stakeholders in the criminal justice system is not to antagonize each other, but instead collaborate and find solutions to some of the issues affecting the community,” Sylvia said.

Rahma Ramadhan one of the Ms President finalists acknowledges the work being done by CSOs and especially Crime Si Poa of ensuring women and youth are involved in finding solutions to issues of security affecting communities in Kenya.

“Police reforms were informed by a lot of work done by civil societies. I am impressed by Sheria Mashinani project by Crime Si Poa. This is a great initiative geared towards ensuring access to justice for all is a reality,” said Rahma. Ms President’s show aims at increasing women’s political representation and participation. Women under this program are being exposed to leadership in various areas that the presidency handles from economics, governance and leadership.

Community Members Lead Anti-FGM Campaign in Kajiado County

By Calvince Otieno

In Kajiado County Female Genital Mutilation, (FGM) is prevalent and forced on young girls despite being illegal in Kenya. The harmful cultural practice has largely affected school-going girls. Most teenage girls drop out of school and engage in early marriage, after undergoing FGM. Crime Si Poa (CSP) in partnership with Kwetu ni Loitokot community-based organizations (CBO) are trying to end this vice that is deeply rooted in Masaai culture.
Speaking during a forum held in Loitoktok by Crime Si Poa (CSP) and Kwetu ni Loitoktok CBO, last week to facilitate constructive debate on how to eliminate FGM and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Kajiado, Patrick Bure, Assistant County Commissioner urged community members to drop harmful cultural practices such as FGM and gender-based violence that are retrogressive to the growth and development of the Community.
“As a community, we must come together, join hands with other activists and support the government’s drive to end cases of female genital mutilation in Kenya. We need also to have equal rights for all to ensure everyone lives a dignified life,” said Patrick.
In Kajiado County, FGM was perpetuated by the misguided belief that it instilled good morals and discouraged promiscuity in young girls. A belief that has been termed misleading and not backed by any scientific research.
“FGM and gender-based violence do occur because they are culturally supported in this community. A woman is treated like a child. There is a bad perception that a woman can be corrected when she does something wrong, by punishment. This is unacceptable and against human rights,” said Rafael, a member of the community.
The practice of FGM is illegal in Kenya, with the government pledging to eradicate it by the end of 2022, eight years ahead of the global deadline of 2030.

According to Moses Orundu, Sub-County Health Commissioner, FGM has largely contributed to Gender-Based Violence with one gender perceived to be lesser than the other. However domestic violence among families has also been fueled by drugs and substance abuse, especially among male counterparts.

“In this area, there is high usage of marijuana and consumption of alcohol. This has resulted in misunderstandings among family members, which end up being violent. The high cost of leaving has also pushed community members to engage in crude ways of earning a living. We need urgent intervention,” Lamented Orundu

Crime Si Poa and Kwetu Ni Loitoktok after the event met with Shadrack Ruto, OCPD, Kajiado South Police Division, and engaged in ways to protect young girls and women from vices such as FGM and SGBV.

“Unfortunately many locals are not willing to cooperate with the police officers including area administrations like the chiefs. It is important to work with you to create the much-needed awareness in this area to eradicate, FGM, SGBV, drug and substance abuse as well as empower our community,” the OCPD concluded.

Crime Si Poa is in the process of extending its hands to partner with other community groups in Kajiado County to sensitize the locals on issues concerning mental health, domestic violence, and FGM.

Balling with the Community: Providing Alternative Solutions to Crime and Drug Addiction

By Calvince Otieno

Last Saturday saw over 400 youth and community members, mostly street families, from the Majengo area in Nairobi took part in a sizzling football tournament dubbed “kicking off crime and drug addiction from society” at St John’s Community Center in Pumwani.

Organized by Street Changers CBO in partnership with Crime Si Poa and other community-focused organizations, the event was aimed at creating awareness of social issues affecting young people in the city.

Young people from the area hitherto infamous for social vices including radicalization had an opportunity to showcase their talent in singing, dancing, and acrobatics. The community also benefitted from free guidance and counseling services at the Crime Si Poa tent and a medical camp by CheckUps Medical Center.

‘’The health of these children matters, and as an organization, we have today decided to offer free medical checkups so that if one is found ill, he or she can start medication as early as possible,’’ said Dorcas Saina, Marketing Officer, CheckUps Medical Center.

According to Ruth Wambui, Project Officer Crime Si Poa, the tournament came at a time when most young people in the community are facing a myriad of challenges, ranging from, unemployment, drug and substance use, mental health issues, crime, as well as sexual and gender-based violence.

“Apart from ensuring we keep sane and fit; the event creates awareness of the effects of crime and substance use, especially among street families. We are also here to avail services such as counseling to help build better mental health among young people,” said Ruth, adding “A great way to spread awareness about mental health is by engaging in events in your community such as this tournament to learn more and connect with others.”

Ruth further urged young people to speak out against sexual and gender-based violence in the community.

Speaking at the event, Thomas Lindi from Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA) cautioned the youth especially members of the street families against consuming tobacco substances, warning of their adverse effects on health.

‘’Smoking tobacco causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also increases the risk of tuberculosis. Young people, please keep away from tobacco substances,’’ Lindi pleaded.

Three teams, Pumwani Football Club, Young Achievers, and Zero Street participated in the tournament with the hosts Pumwani emerging as the winners after defeating Zero Street 2- 1 in the finals. The winners and runners-up were all rewarded with a new ball and trophy while the third-placed team got a trophy.

The Crime Si Poa street families project is aimed at the holistic reformation, rehabilitation of, and reintegration into the society of street children and is ably supported by the Schooner Foundation.

Stigma to Acceptance – Creating Safe Spaces for Mental Health

By Calvince Otieno

One notable outcome of the COVID-19 era is the demystification of mental health. Gone are the days mental health was labelled a “generational curse” only discussed in hushed tones and which required special exorcism. The era of locking up patients in dark rooms and feeding them through doors like caged animals is also gone.

These strides gained in the fight against the stigma associated with mental health, were widely acknowledged during the commemoration of World Mental Health Day forum organised by Crime Si Poa in partnership with Sarakasi Trust, Mental 360, NACADA, Kenya Red Cross, and varsity students among other stakeholders at the Sarakasi Dome, in Ngara, Nairobi.

The forum, preceded by mental health awareness walk in Nairobi, aimed at amplifying the voice of young people, on mental health challenges they are facing, possible remedies and avenues of available support.

Marking the international day themed “Making Mental Health a Global Priority,” Jacob Onyango from NACADA highlighted the adverse effects of drugs and substance abuse on mental health among the youth.

Issues of drug abuse are also issues of mental health. Drug abuse reduces psychological resistance, making it easier for individuals to give in to suicidal thoughts’’ said Onyango.

He encouraged young people to keep off drugs, noting that treating addiction is a costly and long drawn process. Onyango further called for increased psycho-social interventions, including establishment of more mental health facilities, to deal with the rising cases of mental health issues in Kenya 

Touching on mental health challenges facing varsity students including acute depression, occasioned by external stressors, Marcelyn Joel a student leader from JKUAT, stressed on the need for young people to take advantage of available psycho-social support services offered in learning institutions and like-minded organizations instead of taking extreme measures like suicide.

“Many students have difficulties in their academic journey. Though issues like poverty are family related, others like poor academic performance, peer and social media pressure, alcoholism, and drug abuse, are some of the stressors that affect their mental status negatively,” Marcelyn said.

Mental 360 CEO, Bright Shitemi, mentioned that although mental illness is more pronounced today than ever before due to the increased awareness of mental health issues as well as the increased pressures in life as our society progresses, more must be done.

Kenya is said to be lagging in awareness and treatment of mental health illnesses. Hence an increase in resources and awareness campaigns to build up support systems in the society is needed.

“Psychological support needs to be accompanied by economic empowerment. Most people dealing with mental issues also have economic challenges that inhibit them from accessing help contributing to the vicious cycle,” he said.

During the forum stakeholders urged the government to incorporate young people as well as survivors of mental health illnesses while developing policies that advocate for mental health. This is said to be a key demographic mostly ignored by the Ministry of Health Taskforce.

Martha Lee a consultant counselling psychologist from Crime Si Poa echoed sentiments from other speakers, adding that there was an urgent need for a holistic dimension in tackling mental health.

“1 out of 5 people experience mental health issues, depression and anxiety being the most common. We need to create more spaces for people dealing with mental issues,” lamented Martha, adding, “Positive associations in the environment such as a family keepsake, photos, or familiar objects can boost mood and a sense of connection.”   

She urged people to seek counselling as therapy can be beneficial for both the individual with mental illness as well as the other family members.

Crime Si Poa has since COVID-19 prioritized mental wellness as a core operational and programmatic issue with a fully-fledged wellness unit. The organization has also cascaded the same to all our activities in prisons, schools, and communities by creating awareness through psychoeducation and offering psychosocial counselling to the affected.

Young People Should Continue to Push for Inclusion in Leadership

By Fidel Castro

Crime Si Poa celebrates young leaders in Kenya as we mark International Youth Day, amidst ongoing vote tallying exercises after the conclusion of the country’s general elections. Youth representation availed during these general elections will help shift the paradigm that has been for years, where the older generation is perceived to “own” the political echelon.

The youth should be empowered, encouraged and supported to occupy more elective positions. Political systems should review their structures to allow youth representation, which is presently not the reality among most African nations. When young people are disenfranchised or disengaged from political processes, a significant portion of the population has little or no voice or influence in decisions that affect group members’ lives.

To make a difference in the longer term, it is essential that young people are engaged in formal political processes and have a say in formulating today’s and tomorrow’s politics. Inclusive political participation is not only a fundamental political and democratic right but also is crucial to building stable and peaceful societies as well as developing policies that respond to the specific needs of younger generations. Young people to be adequately represented in political institutions, processes, and decision-making, and in particular in elections, they must know their rights. Young people should also be given the necessary knowledge and capacity to participate in a meaningful way at all levels. As much as we are having intense debates on the empowerment of women to occupy both elective and appointive positions as buttressed by the Kenyan 2/3 gender rule, we should also see robust, deliberations to bridge the gap that is currently at play vis a vis national governance.

Kenya is a young nation with a fast-growing democracy where great embargos are scattered on the way to realizing this beautiful and inclusive end can be realized. In such an atmosphere where there are obstacles to participating in formal, institutionalized political processes, young people can rapidly feel disempoweredMany tend to believe that their voices are not going to be heard or they will not be taken seriously even if they are heard. This in turn leads to young people being increasingly excluded from taking part in decision-making, or in debates about key socio-economic and political issues. This is despite social equity, justice, environmental protection and cultural diversity demands. This, therefore, cuts short the process of achieving sustainable development goals.

However, throwing in the towel is not the solution, the young generation that forms a larger percentage of the nation’s population, should soldier and maximize the available opportunities to gather the required muscles to break through the web of political exclusion. Nations that we admire today walked through this path and achieved.

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence So Pervasive in Kenya

Have you ever wondered how it feels like to be a girl or a woman in Kenya? Despite exceptional contributions to society, girls and women suffer non-equivalently. Gender and sexual-based violence is a problem that is rampant amongst us. The African culture endorses SGBV and ownership of the female gender. The African cultural nature has also made demands that women be submissive. 

Recently in Kisumu, Crime Si Poa (CSP) team dealt with a case of a 70-year-old retired teacher who was arrested after it was discovered that he has been defiling three 13-year-old girls. Lucy, one of the pupils was groomed and used by the culprit to lure the other two pupils to the house of the culprit where he defiled them.  

The man was caught when one of the pupils did not make it home that night. The worried mother, of the minor, went fetching for her in school the following day, where she found her. After interrogation by the mother and her teacher, the terrified student revealed that Lucy took them to the perpetrator, who defiled them. The matter was reported to the area police station, unfortunately, the culprit could not be detained since he “fell ill” and had been admitted to a hospital. 

As I author this article, the girls are being taken through counselling and the perpetrator is still sadly walking free. Let us face it, reporting SGBV cases is a subject that brings judgment and victimization to the victims. Society has taught us if a woman is assaulted it is their fault.  

The cycle continues, and before we even deal with the first case, another case yet of another 13-year-old girl Mitchelle Wanjeri, a class six pupil at Mwariki Primary School is unveiled, this time in Nakuru County. Wanjeri faced two attempted defilement incidences. In one of the henious incidents, the perpetrator (the alleged neighbour’s husband) tried forced penetration using fingers. 

Despite the matter being reported to the authorities and relevant government officials, no actions have been taken against the perpetrator. Her mother has been unsupportive even after several accounts of being summoned, she has refused to show up and an arrest warrant was issued to her for neglecting parental duties. The mother has since been missing in action prolonging the chance of getting Mitchell the justice deserved. Our efforts to get Mitchelle a rescue centre to protect her from the abusive environment have not bored any fruit.  

Sadly, Mitchelle lacked support documents, which include medical and police reports needed to be able to be admitted to the Clabrin Shelter a rescue centre based in Nakuru. Her mother interfered with previous reports claiming her child is a liar and a prostitute. Just like the other cases mentioned above, this case is still pending and stuck at the police.  

Gender-based violence creates unpredictability in young girls. Women and girls live at the mercy of sexual predators who treat them with disdain and subject them to unspeakable violence. This same society is quick to question even the innocence of children when it comes to the subject of gender-based violence.  

Some women are also partly to blame as they encourage and promote these archaic patriarchal ideologies as in the case of Mitchelle. Women have been degraded, gagged, humiliated, and stripped away of their dignity over time in such a way that they decide to suffer in silence. 

Society does not know how to take responsibility thus we shift the blame to the victims. Perhaps, she seduced the assailant, no, what she wore led to her being raped, she drank too much she deserved it, she is lying she just wants to cause trouble. “If she is beaten, she incited it, if she is raped, she invited it” Gloria Steinem 

For how long is society going to tolerate the way in which our young girls are abused, and their childhoods robbed from them? How long do we always have to wonder how high our girls can fly before the monsters and predators get to them and ruin their lives? 

Victims are always blamed by those who hold power in the community. Powerful perpetrators get to frame the narrative of violence by frustrating any efforts made to fight SGBV.  

It is time to sensitize society on violence against women and change the narrative on violence toward women. As a society, we have lost empathy and the spark that makes us human. We must start seeing the need of valuing and protecting one another. 

May we dwell in Unity, Peace, Love and Liberty

By Fidel Castro

Have you ever wondered why the voice groaning for peace is so loud? Have you ever wondered why this thing, peace, is presented as a priceless jewel whose value cannot be quantified? What is peace and what does it hold to humanity and society?

I know these are some of the questions that have been lingering in your mind, don’t worry, you’re not alone, I have also been thinking through those lines and that is why my pen has decided to settle this matter.

This is not exaggerated talk; neither is it a pep talk. It is the cry of many Kenyans who would want to live a normal life, because in the event when there is no peace, life is never normal. I can’t imagine you shelving off those family treats, those evening walks as the sun is travelling west, shelving the fun moments you religiously have with friends randomly, pale kwa base, I can’t imagine.

The beauty we so much adore in our country, the life we value, the tremendous infrastructural development, the flowers that are blossoming outside your house, along the walk paths, inside Uhuru Park, are in existence because for the last 5 years there has been peace.  

We are just 8 days to elections and just like waters flow never to return to their source, elections will come and go. However, one is for sure, elections will always leave a mark that we will always point to for the next five years. These marks can be positive or negative.

The marks of the last general elections are present with us. It is therefore undeniable that elections will always leave a mark. I remember with nostalgia, the year 2007, what a horrific time we found ourselves in. The tales of that time are as fresh as a daisy. The gory scenes and very terrifying period we had in Kenya.

The wounds of that time are visible only the blind can not see and only the callous cannot relate. Those with their voter’s cards, left their homes to exercise their democratic rights, not knowing what was awaiting them, people left their homes with plans of coming back to wrap up the unfinished business, little did they know that their fellow tribesmen were set ready to instigate violence.

2022 is here, August 9th is fast approaching, and the day is coming at a supersonic speed, what’s chasing after this day? It will come and will generously allow us the opportunity to exercise our democratic right.

Vote for peace. I know we are told that history repeats itself, yes, but also, we can recreate our own history. It must not always be as it was before.

As days keep unfolding, we grow and as a snake moult for example scraping the edges of its mouth against a hard surface until the outer layer sheds and begins to fold back around its head, so should we allow ourselves to shed off the outer layers?

The layers that push us to hit hard our neighbours, our tribesmen, our community mates, and those we share with the same amenities. I am glad various political factions believe that people have the power to make choices. Let us harness that power that resides within us and choose peace.

I need peace, you need peace, we all need peace.

Collaboration Between Police and Youth will Improve Service Delivery in Kenya

 The promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya in 2010 brought a new life in Kenya. Among them is the reform of police services, geared towards modernizing and transforming the police agencies into professional and accountable police services responsive to the needs of Kenyans. This came after decades of law enforcement marked by police brutality, harassment, and extrajudicial killings.

A lot of changes have been witnessed in the National Police Service (NPS) in terms of administrative, institutional, policy, and legislative frameworks. However, despite all these efforts, a daunting task remains in boosting a good rapport between the police and civilians.

The acts of impunity by some members of the police service have greatly eroded the confidence of Kenyans towards the police. Most of the time, the police force is viewed as an enemy, a threat to life and peace, instead of being protectors of life.

Unprecedented violence, human rights, and dignity violations have hugely dented the image of the National Police Service; despite the many good acts of service, they have rendered to citizens. 

However, as much as we would like to lean on the negative side of the police force, it would be a grave injustice not to mention the many good acts of service rendered to Kenyans by the police. There are many good officers who have done exemplary work for the people, and in them, “Utumishi kwa wote” has found its fulfillment.

Talk about the officer who traded a gun for chalk to teach some students at the Kenya-Ethiopia border. Not forgetting the 25 police officers recognized by Manu Chandaria for their good work. There is much to be said about the Kenyan police on the peace-keeping mission in South Sudan, honored by the United Nations. Many good, loyal, and dedicated members of the police service have proved time and again that the public can still trust them to protect them. 

Changing the narrative 

To avert further aggression between the community and the police force, we must look back and check where we went wrong as a country and find possible solutions to this menace.

Historically, a culture of impunity was passed down from the colonial era and is evident in post-colonial Africa. The colonists used African tribesmen to carry out punitive expeditions on their fellow Africans. In the same vein, the police have little regard paid to the law, and the fact that it is little or no accountability for the police does not help.

Secondly, how the police are trained could be a factor in explaining the violence exhibited by our men and women in uniform. If you have been to Kiganjo, you have seen how the recruits are subjected to dehumanizing and degrading exercises in the name of recruitment. The lack of professionalism in the process might explain the situation’s “Kwa ground”. 

Lastly, the almost non-existent structures of civilian oversight do not make things better. The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) was founded in 2011 to investigate police brutality and killings as a way to check the power of the police. To date, only about 13 convictions out of 10,000 complaints lodged have been made. 

The much-needed shift 

There is a need for a 180-degree shift in mindset, which can only be brought about by training. If training is done properly, with regard to qualification and the dignity of the recruits, it will reflect on how they perform their duties. The training should focus more on human rights and the rule of law and be conducted in such a manner that the two are ingrained in the minds and hearts of the officers.

A powerless IPOA banking on the cooperation of the NPS will never perform as it ought to. The institution needs to have the power to compel the Inspector-General of Police to ensure accused police officers cooperate during investigations. Additionally, the government needs to allocate adequate funds to IPOA to enable them to conduct investigations. 

Another way to enhance oversight of the NPS could be to devolve the police service, borrowing a leaf from the American model that has established police departments in each state. Devolving the police service would allow for easier management of the officers by the county government. This would increase accountability as compared to centralized control of the police service. Devolving would also make the police more responsive to issues affecting residents of particular counties. This will also enable IPOA to monitor and investigate independent police departments, unlike a centralized one.

As Kenyans, we also have an individual responsibility to ensure that “Utumishi Kwa Wote” becomes a reality through expressing themselves by raising their voices against impunity as well as by being law-abiding citizens.

Youth Wellness Connection: CSP Chat About Kenyan Youth Mental Health Crisis

By Audrey Kariithi

Every ten (10) people in Kenya suffer from a common mental disorder. The largest population of these statistics is made up of young people, from age 18 and 35. Youth currently make up 75 percent of Kenya’s population, and they are the most affected by mental health issues according to research. 

As an organization – Crime Si Poa, we feel there it’s critical for relevant agencies to analyze the impact mental disorder has on youth when evaluating the mental health status of the nation.

In 2021, Kenya established a Mental Health Taskforce to implement reforms to improve care for those with mental health conditions. The Taskforce reported that there exists high levels of depression,  suicidal behavior, mental distress, and substance use in the country among the youth.

According to  Dr. Jackson Kioko, Director of Medical Services (DMS), young people aged 10-24, face mental health risks associated with human rights violations, wars, and violence. 

He further noted substance abuse, sexual, reproductive, and gender identity issues, obesity and overweight problems, HIV infections, and cyberbullying among other issues affecting the youth mental condition in the country. 

This follows the World Health Organization’s 2017 report on the world mental health situation which ranked Kenya fourth in the highest number of depressed people in Africa.

Alarms should be going off by now!

In my experience as a mental health practitioner, it is not uncommon to have daily encounters with a person or two who have had traumatic life experiences…and if you are a 22nd Century youth in Kenya, you are familiar with the question, “What is wrong with young people?”

I would like to sit here and tell you that there is one principal cause of the declining mental health of youth and give a strict 300 mg prescription to be taken twice a day. In reality, there is a myriad of issues varying from individual to individual that makes it difficult to pinpoint what singularly goes ‘wrong.’

Family issues may be, unemployment?… The list goes on. We would always come up with different hypotheses. On a large scale, especially when lived by the individual, it feels like eternal damnation. Break these things down into smaller-sized issues, and we have ‘normal’ life challenges…but what really is “normal?”

Sadly, we live in a society that applauds tolerance (suffering in silence; without intention to remedy or exit the situation) as grit and endurance. You know, the old ‘toughen it out!’ Sometimes in our national culture, it is literally okay to not be okay.

Our attitude around mental health has an affinity towards coping. It is the reason for panic and disassociation once young people begin to breach the system and display visible cries for help; whether it is a high drug and substance abuse, increased engagement in crime, or literal suicide! 

What is questioned is young people’s integrity to cope.

We ask, “Have youth become so averse to challenges that we find it hard to adapt? Have they been ‘sheltered’ too much?”

Well, it’s neither Yes nor No. The answer is that Mental Health Matters and we need to pay attention. At all levels of intervention: within schools, communities, churches, workplaces and the very fabric of society, we should structure our response and improve our value systems around mental health.

What does this look like? 

Continue reading Crime Si Poa’s Mental Health Awareness and Intervention Blogs.

Sexual Harrassment Outside the Workplace: Criminal or Just Immoral?

I was going through my Whatsapp status updates when I came across a thread by my classmate. She was talking of how she and her sister had gone out to look for a shop and had an encounter with some men. The men started calling and greeting them and when they failed to respond, insults were hurled at them.

A number of ladies, including myself, can attest to having had such encounters. Not to say that the harassment is always done by men, but most of the time, it is. And it is uncomfortable and the object of the cat-calls often feels violated. Such behavior has become so commonplace in today’s society yet it was previously unheard of. Despite it being very common, it is only a moral offence and not a criminal one. However, I think it should be a criminal offence.

According to Section 23(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 2006 “Any person, who being in a position of authority, or holding a public office, who persistently makes any sexual advances or requests which he or she knows, or has reasonable grounds to know, are unwelcome, is guilty of the offence of sexual harassment and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than three years or to a fine of not less than one hundred thousand shillings or to both.” It is evident that the law only regards unwelcome sexual advances as sexual harassment where there is a distinct power relationship.

The question now becomes, does my friend just have to learn to ignore cat-calls or can she do anything about it? Truth is, she has no legal recourse. Neither her nor the little girl in the estate who is afraid to go to the shop because an ‘old mubaba’ keeps whistling and saying ‘size yangu’, a highly suggestive term in street slang, have any legal recourse. Yet, the behavior exhibited in both cases passes for unwelcome sexual advances.

Many are the times when a child has been defiled by a neighbor and in their statement, the child says that the perpetrator had made such ‘unwelcome sexual advances’ but they either had nowhere to report or their reports were brushed off because, under the law, nothing can be done. Children, or even at times adults, wait for the rape or defilement to happen before they can report. Which in my view is detrimental to the whole purpose of the law. 

Such habits can be indicators of imminent danger, especially because most guilty of this are people who live around the victims or watch their moves and could therefore pose a threat. If anyone feels violated or in danger, they should be able to report and action should be taken to investigate the claims. 

Section 124 of the Evidence Act provides that a child’s evidence need not be corroborated. Consequently, if sexual harassment was to be criminalized, such victims -child or adult, male or female- would have recourse and the law would serve as a deterrent to such persons. Where the moral fabric does not hold, the law should intervene.