Women from informal settlements decry election violence

Women peace builders during a press conference in Nairobi
Women peace builders during a press conference in Nairobi

Women from different areas in Nairobi are skeptical of security and peaceful elections contrary to government assurance for peace. Women from various areas which include Kibera, Mathare, Kiyambiyu, Shauri Moyo, Mukuru, Kangemi and some parts of Ngong in Nairobi, want the government to take full action in ensuring that they are safe.

“People have been moving to of the states, those who have homes in the village are parking and leaving the town; some have been threatened directly or have been intimidated to leave,” they posed.

The ladies from informal sectors have persistently said that the areas are prone to election violence since women campaigner, as well as aspirants, are easy targets by gangs and political pressure groups in the slums.

“Our areas are marked as ‘hot-spots’ but that alone puts us under pressure, there are talks of people arming themselves. Even though, we are afraid, we have come forward in solidarity so that these issues are not overlooked,” they stated.

In almost all the areas represented, criminal gangs have seemingly increased or regrouped ahead of the polling date and are continuously causing violence and mayhem.

Reports also say that other areas continue to experience a surge in youth drunkenness and disorderly behavior as a result of free and cheap liquor offered to them by aspirants to cause chaos.

Association of Kenya Women (AMWIK), the African Women’s Development and Communication Network together with other women bodies have stepped up in solidarity to protect the affected areas to protect women through the government.

They have recommended that the government therefore should urgently consider; guaranteed security assurance ahead of the elections, deployment of gender –sensitive policing to manage women’s vulnerability and security and creation of safe spaces for women and children incase violence erupts.

Other recommendations include mapping out of easy access for emergency and health care services during heightened violence, engaging youths as peace builders and conflict mitigators and persistent community discussions and engagements on peace and cohesion.