Women living in slum areas in Nairobi have raised fears of impending post-election violence.
The women from Mathare, Kibera, Korogocho, Huruma, Kiambiyu, Shauri Moyo, Kaloleni, Mukuru, Kangemi and parts of Ngong and Ruaraka on Thursday said that, contrary to government assurances of peace and security during the electioneering period, various gangs financed by politicians have been formed to cause violence.
READ: List of Nairobi’s political violence hotspots
The women said they have already received threatening messages on social media while others have found leaflets on their doorsteps.
“Our areas are marked as hotspots and that alone puts us under pressure; there is talk of people arming themselves ahead of elections and we fear for our safety,” one of the women said.
The women, who fear being victimised for speaking out, hid their faces behind placards bearing messages calling for improved security.
The also claimed that the gangs are stopping residents from travelling to their rural areas demanding that they must wait until the electioneering period is over.
Ms Mildred Ngesa, African Women Development and Communication Network (Femnet) head of communication, said women in low-income areas and informal settlements bear the brunt of election violence and need to be protected.
“Sexual violence is rife, women campaigners as well as aspirants are easy targets of attacks while their voices are muffled and often ignored in escalating political temperatures,” she said.
READ: Women struggle to seek help after sexual violence
The women said criminal gangs have seemingly increased ahead of the polling date and are causing mayhem.
Some of the criminal gangs, they said, have been paid by politicians to cause chaos in the event they are defeated in the coming elections.
The women are asking the government to invoke Kenya’s commitment to the United Nations Security Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
“We want the government to ensure there is security because whenever violence breaks out, it is us — women and children — who suffer more,” another of the women said.
The women are also asking for female police officers to be deployed in the slum areas to ensure women do not fall victim to rape and mishandling by male police officers.
Ms Daisy Amdany of CRAWN Trust said gender-sensitive policing should be among the considerations of protecting women’s rights.
“This should include the opening of safe corridors for women as part of prevention and management of sexual and gender based violence,” she said.