An Overview of NCHRD-K’s Report on the Effects of Evictions to Women Human Rights Defenders and Women Rights
Margaret Chesir was born in Embobut forest and for over 50 years has known no other home. She is a member of the indigenous Sengwer community, often evicted by the government in a bid to conserve the forest. An agonised Chesir was evicted in 2014, and since then, she has been in and out of the forest, struggling to get back to the hunter-gatherer life that defines her community.
“Life outside the forest is unbearable and we often return to the forest as soon as security agencies burn down our structures,” Chesir told the Star, holding back tears.Chesir and other women grew up in an environment where colobus monkeys chattered, jackals howled and crickets chirped. They are fond of natural fruits and vegetables found in Embobut and nearby forests.
“We don’t cut down trees because we live inside thick forests, and we rely on the forest for food and medicines,” she says.Other communities listed as indigenous include Boni (Bajuni), El Molo, Malakote, Ogiek, Sanya, Waata, Wagoshi and Yaaku.But as the world commemorated the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, Chesir and company were wondering what their future holds.
LEFT BY HUSBANDS
Mary Komen, a Sengwer community women leader, says the community is now joining the list of internally displaced Kenyans after a series of evictions. The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya recently conducted a research titled “Race against eviction. The plight of Sengwer women and human rights defenders in Embobut forest”.
The NCHRD-K report, launched in Iten, shows a community that has lost its traditions and language during successive evictions. According to the report, Sengwer were forcibly evicted every year since 2007. The community has lived in Embobut forest since the 1890s, and they were given permits by the British colonial government to stay in three glades, including Kapkok, Kaptirbai and Koropken. Its members also occupy parts of West Pokot and Trans Nzoia and consist of 21 clans. The 2009 census put the Sengwer community population at 33,187.
The NCHRD-K further established that the evictions depressed the community, while frequent displacements and disruption of livelihoods have denied the community’s children the right to education. Early marriages and disintegration of Sengwer family units have also been threatened by the evictions. NCHRD-K executive director Kamau Ngugi said researchers spoke to women of the indigenous deep inside the forest.
“The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights had previously conducted a study on human rights violations. We found out that women’s views were not put into account, and that is why we decided to look into the situation of women inside the forest,” Ngugi said.
It was also discovered during the study that Sengwer women were abandoned by their husbands after forest dwellers received Sh400,000 each as payout to move out of the forest. “Men left their wives and married younger women from the neighbouring Marakwet community, and squandered the money meant for buying alternative land,” the interim report reads in part.
Article done by Stephen Rutto, Star Newspaper. Read the entire article here: https://www.the-star.co.ke/news/2018/09/11/big-read-sengwer-women-weve-lost-our-dignity-rights-violated-in_c1807215
Civic space in Kenya continues to be under pressure as a range of actions are being directed against the work of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) and Civil Society organizations in Kenya. Physical attacks, criminal and administrative actions, legislative restrictions, negative rhetoric and limitation of human rights have undermined the Constitutional and international protections available to HRDs.
It is against this backdrop that the Working Group on Human Rights Defenders in Kenya, which brings together CSOs and development partners concerned with the protection of HRDs, is organizing the third edition of the HRD Awards on the 30th of November 2018. The aim of the ceremony is to honour and publicly recognize the important work of HRDs in Kenya, by giving out awards to men and women who have demonstrated courage and impact in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The awards are presented in three categories: the Munir Mazrui Lifetime achievement award, the Human Rights Defender of the year award and the upcoming Human Rights Defender of the year award.
The objectives of these awards are to:
The Working Group on Human Rights Defenders in Kenya develops a call for nominations which is then widely circulated by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Kenya (NCHRD-K) and other partners. This call outlines the criteria for eligibility for nomination.
A panel then shortlists five individuals per category within the set out guidelines for shortlisting candidates.
The panel verifies the HRDs human rights work through field visits, and interviews with the nominators, the nominees and their references.
The Independent Selection Panel, which comprises of eminent individuals in the human rights sector, will decide who will receive the awards based on the profiles of the nominated HRDs.
Will be held on the 30th November 2018 in the presence of CSOs, the government, selected HRDs, representatives from the international missions, and the media who will cover the event.
The following will be taken into consideration:
The winners will receive:
All nomination forms should be sent back to the NCHRD-K via email@example.com with a clear subject line “HRD AWARD NOMINATION” by 20th July 2018, 12.00 pm.
Get the application form here:NOMINATION FORM FOR THE HRD AWARDS 2018
Mama Rahma has been a gallant Woman Human Rights Defender since 1984. In celebrating the International Women’s Day, she is one of the few women celebrated by the Standard Newspaper. Her journey has ben a successful one in overcoming all the odds especially in her Borana Culture to emerge as the only woman elder in the community. Read more at: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001272491/married-off-at-12-mother-now-saves-abused-girls
Watch the HRD awards 2017 video Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjX-BQ_fDHY&t=1881s
See an Interview for DR Kizzie Shako by the People Daily here: http://www.mediamaxnetwork.co.ke/people-daily/408672/forensic-doctor-solves-puzzling-sexual-crimes/