Nairobi is fine with clouds and sun as we prepare to run some teacher trainings before we take the intervention to Cape Town SA in March 2014. The recent lively discussion on stopping rape in Africa opened up thoughts and views of Africa Summit activists and brought in new energy and the need to deal with this menace accordingly and that is what we would like as we plan to mark the second One Billion Rising for Justice on 14 February.
First of all I wish to tell you that we are actually age mates with V-Day. We started our work in the same year 1998 and our Journey with V-Day started in 2002 when they supported our activity in Kibera slum of Nairobi where we ran a number of activities targeting pre-primary schools, primary (elementary) schools and high schools. This culminated in a very successful story 2 years later where an 8-year-old girl who we trained while in pre-primary school when she was only 5 years old came to use the skills to stop a man from raping her. This was in the year 2004, she is now 17 years old. V-Day have been our leading partners in the fight against rape in Kenya and with their support we have been able to directly and indirectly reach nearly 2 million beneficiaries in Kenya to date. They also introduced the same intervention in Eastern D R Congo through the City of Joy located in Bukavu so as to help women and girls learn how to defend themselves whenever possible against civilian and solo armed attackers. The most interesting aspect about this training at the City of Joy is that survivors are translating and changing their previous pain into power to help themselves and others not to be raped or raped again. To date, over 300 women and girls have been trained and are back in their communities making a difference. As we always say, most rapes may look difficult but not all are impossible to stop if women and girls are equipped with such interventions. The purpose of these initiatives is not to fight anybody, but to defend themselves which is a natural sovereignty.
What we do, our intervention is divided into 2 main components, prevention education, and self defense training. The prevention education is composed of 22 points for girls under 16 years old, adult women is composed of 4 points, boys education is composed of 16 points. The education basically cautions and touches on situations, lifestyles, and circumstances that can lead to rape or defilement and how you can identify, avoid, and prevent them. The education is age appropriate and it is coupled with singing, drama, and some dancing to entertain the audience as this helps to capture their attention and learning capacity. We also educate them on the sexual offenses law and knowledge on collection and preservation of evidence for prosecution purposes. After the education, participants are provided with reference notes.
The self defense training is made up of 40 skills developed from basic wrestling, martial arts, and common sense. However in most trainings we train a maximum of 25 to 30 skills which are very specific to the common day-to-day attacks no matter whether attackers are armed with ordinary weapons, no matter how strong they may be, and no matter their number. These are soft skills, basic skills, and advanced skills which involve defense against crude weapon attacks. The skills are simple and easy to apply making it possible for any woman between the age of 5 and 85 to understand and properly use in case of danger. It takes between 2 to 4 hours to train a class and we can go back again to complete the training so as not to interfere with other school curriculum, and it takes between 5 to 10 days to train large number of trainers. Because rapists do not come or attack in any particular style, women, girls, and children are prepared to apply and use the various skills to deal with any situation using the elements of speed and surprise.
The purpose of these self defense skills is to disable and immobilize attackers for a period of 20 to 30 minutes to allow the woman, girl, or child to get away from danger and if possible report for attempted rape. The strategy is commonly known as Anti grab and counter technology for rapid response. The secret here is to use what you have and what is around you against his or their open weak points or target areas. Target areas on attackers are nearly 10. Women, girls, and children are taught how to identify them. Also boys are trained some self defense skills against muggings as it can help prevent sodomy which is another form of sexual abuse.
Some incidences where this strategy has been used to stop assaults include:
We shared our work online with an organization in Mauritius known as Victim support in year 2005. They are using this concept to address rape problems in their country. In August 2011 we directly trained the first class of self defense trainers at the City of Joy in Bukavu in Eastern D R Congo in partnership and collaboration with V-Day. In March 2014 we shall take the strategy to Cape Town to train over 100 trainers who, after graduating, will go into schools to train school girls and help them combat rampant rapes in the area. They will also engage boys to change some of their negative attitudes and behaviors towards women, girls, and children. We also plan to take the training to Uganda to train representatives from more than 20 groups of women. At the moment they are raising funds to fund the trainings. We hope they will be ready anytime from April 2014.
As concerns the V-Men work, Dolphin started educating men and boys back in 2005 before the V-Men movement came to existence. We started with Nairobi County from 2004 to 2009 and spread out to Kiambu County in 2010 and 2011 and this contributed a lot in the reduction of child sexual abuse in the 2 counties. We have an independent survey report that was done in Kenya by a local daily newspaper known as Daily Metro which was published on 16/10/2007 that showed out of Kenya’s 8 provinces, Nairobi had nil incidences of child sexual abuse. This follows work we did in Nairobi between 2004 and mid 2007. Working with men and boys is one area that needs to be strengthened because we have seen the importance of working with them through that report. Boys are willing to be engaged but we tend to ignore them and that is not good because sexual violence affects us all either directly or indirectly.
At the moment plans are underway to take the trainings to the 2 Narok Safe houses once V-Day Kenya Regional Director Agnes Pareiyo is ready.
I hope that a story from me as a man will actually serve to inspire other men to join in the effort and do something towards ending this scourge. I am glad to let you that a man by the name Brent Kessel a U.S. citizen, donated funds for 2 air tickets for 2 other trainers to accompany Winnie and myself for the trainings in Cape Town. Another man called Darren Bunton also a U.S. citizen donated funds to renewe our passports and do some work in Nairobi slum estates. We need such more men to be part of the programs. Although they are not able to physically be there they are ready to support in any other way and we have thanked them for that. And not to forget our V-Men god father Dr. Dennis Mukwege who has done an amazing work repairing women and girls’ genitals distorted following barbaric rape incidences in Eastern D R Congo.
Some brief info about me, I am a trained Veterinarian. After working in public service for 28 years, I requested for early retirement in the year 2005 to commit my self to addressing rape in Kenya. Previously I was doing it on part time basis. Being the last born in our family, I really loved my late Mother so much and she also loved me equally. That love made me love others and would not like something bad to happen to them if I am able to prevent it. I have vast knowledge in martial arts and I was able to train a team from Eldoret Town that went on to win the Kenya national Kumite (attack and defense skills) championship in the year 1990. The rape and murder of a middle aged woman in Eldoret Town in Kenya ignited the formation of Dolphin Anti-Rape and since then, myself and Winnie, my wife, have never looked back, but continue to do what we know best.
Duncan O O Bomba
Dolphin anti rape and AIDS Control Outreach.