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Caroline Sakwa, gender director of Shofco, has posters around her office, listing the cases of rape, “defilement” and domestic violence with which she is dealing.

“The root cause of so many teenage pregnancies is that the girl in Kibera is helpless, sometimes she is raped, sometimes it’s transactional sex, intergenerational sex. Gang rape is huge because of the drugs and alcohol,” she says.

“You ask a pregnant teenage girl: ‘What happened?’ and she says: ‘I needed sanitary pads and I had no money, so I had sex one time.’ Or: ‘My parents told me to have sex to get some money.’ Then, of course, they are pregnant, there is no safe abortion, and they are forced out of the home. Even if the perpetrator might be one in the home – brother, step brother, uncle.

“Women are forced to leave their children alone at home when they go to work, they cannot afford to send them to school, so the children are vulnerable.”

She has a woman and her three children staying in the SHOFCO safe house located above her office, which provides temporary shelter to victims of abuse. All of them have been abused.

“The child needed surgery,” she says matter-of-factly. “We supported and brought a case to arrest this man, but the father went to the police and bribed them so he was able to go back to his village. The mother is safe and we have hope; the mother is the strength of this girl, she will need counselling for life. She is so traumatised.

“They are not unusual. These are the cases we had every day, all the time, about 35 to 40 people in the safe house in a month.The community are our eyes and reporting is increasing. 90% of our perpetrators are behind bars. Yesterday was a holiday and we had only two cases of defilement. So things are getting better, but I worry that we are forgetting about boys and men. There’s a need to involve them. In Africa, the girl child has to be empowered, but now we realise the boys are feeling that they are left behind.”


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