News / Africa

    Program Teaches Poor Women, Girls in Nairobi how to Protect Themselves

    Program - I'm Worth Defending - teaches girls and women how to defend themselves
    Program - I'm Worth Defending - teaches girls and women how to defend themselves

    Rape is a constant threat for girls and women living in the crime-ridden slums of Kenya's capital, Nairobi. It is estimated that one out of five women are raped in the slums, and there are few arrests of rapists. A U.S.-initiated and funded program is working hard to change all that. 

    Charity Waithera has been to hell and back. During the country's post-election violence, she was brutally gang-raped near a section of Nairobi called Korogocho.

    Some eight months after her ordeal, the 46-year-old mother of seven joined a group called "I'm Worth Defending." Her life has since been transformed.

    "I have been taught to remove the rape experience from my heart - that is very important," she said. "I have been taught how to protect myself if I meet with gangsters or rapists. I have also been taught how to run away if I am in a compromising situation and which areas of the man I can hold if I am being attacked."

    I'm Worth Defending is an international non-government organization based in Korogocho and operating in other slums in Kenya's capital.

    The group teaches girls and women self-defense skills and provides counseling on rape.

    "We bring to light that frailty is not the thing. It is about you as a person and the inner belief that you are worth defending, that your spirit tells you that you have a purpose and you have to defend that purpose," said Philip Otieno, the executive director of I'm Worth Defending.

    He says that his group also focuses on rape prevention and life skills.

    "We are not blind to teaching the boys who are potential rapists if they are not talked to. We have a boys' class that is pure lecture session where we give them the eight basic rules that we want them to adhere to. We are talking about respect for women as rule number one," he said.

    In the self-defense classes, students are shown how to talk their way out of dangerous situations and, if cornered, what areas of the rapist's body to strike.

    Student Veronica Njeri describes how she can use her body to fend off a rapist. "I have been shown how to break the knee of my attacker using my legs so that he cannot run after me. Using the side of my hand, I can hit my attacker continuously on the neck area and face just to confuse him. Using my elbow, I can hit my attacker in the stomach area if he is holding me from behind," she explained.

    "After the class, they are optimistic," says defense instructor Maggie Mbatia. "The training empowers girls and women,  They are saying, 'Oh my God, I did not expect this from that class. Oh, it makes me feel like I am worth a lot more than what I think I am because I thought I am just that woman who can do nothing. If there is no man around to defend me, then I cannot defend myself. But after this class, I really feel powerful. I really feel that I have a purpose and I must fulfill it.'"

    The Nairobi slum of Korogocho is among the poorest, where most people earn less than $1 a day and crime is rampant.

    Girls and women are especially vulnerable to being raped in these parts of town.

    It is easy for attackers to break into houses made out of mud and corrugated iron. Streets and alleyways are not lit at night. Women are stigmatized if they report rapes and can even be hurt or killed for doing so.

    There are no reliable statistics as to the number of rapes in the capital or nation-wide. The Gender Violence Recovery Centre in Nairobi reports that they see an average of 230 new clients a month, most of who are sexual assault survivors.

    Officials report that more than half of the victims live in slum areas.

    I'm Worth Defending's Otieno says he wants girls and women to be equipped with the skills to defend themselves before the rapists can get to them.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora