#16Voices, #16Stories DAY 1: Leave While You Can; The story of Wanja Ngiri (Agnetta Robinson), a domestic violence survivor from Kenya

It's DAY 1 of the #16Voices, #16Stories from around the globe for the #16DaysOfActivism Against Gender Based Violence.  

On 25th Day of November each year, the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the beginning of 16 Days Of Activism against gender based violence campaign. This year marks 25 years of the campaign whose purpose is to increase international awareness on the systemic nature of violence against women and to expose this violence as a violation of women's human rights. UNWOMEN estimates that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence - mostly from an intimate partner. 

In this spirit, IAMGOAL5 will be featuring stories from 16 people from a cross-section of people from around the world, from survivors of different forms of gender violence, policy makes, human rights defenders fighting to end gender based violence and government officials as well.

#16Voices for #16DaysOfActivism against gender based violence. 

'Leave while you can' says Wanja Ngiri who left an abusive toxic relationship and has now embarked on a new path, with a baby on the way, after having put all that behind her. 

'Leave while you can' says Wanja Ngiri who left an abusive toxic relationship and has now embarked on a new path, with a baby on the way, after having put all that behind her. 

She is the premier events and party planner as well as lifestyle consultant in the busy town Nanyuki in Kenya; and having to be warm and open comes naturally to her being in the hospitality Industry. She buzzes from end to end with her beautiful smile doing what she loves best, being a lifestyle consultant and running her events business as well as blogging on fashion and travel.

But all is not what it seems at first glance, her smile is something that she has had to acquire back after having been robbed of it while in an abusive domestic relationship with her-then-fiance almost two years ago. She has come a long way since deciding to get out that toxic abusive relationship, a decision she has lived by very happily ever after, but was not an easy one. 

She has shared her story with the Daily Nation and Stories of Courage which you can read here and here. I asked her; 

What is your advice to women who want to break away from the cycle of domestic abuse?

"I would tell them not to be afraid of leaving for the fear of what the society will say about them. Also, anyone who hits you the first time will do it again, do not believe their emotional blackmail. Leave while you can." 


Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking in East Africa.

Globally, 27 million people are said to be in modern-day slavery while about 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders annually. About one million children are exploited by the commercial sex industry every year, 80 per cent of victims being women and girls while 70 per cent of female victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

In all the six East African Countries, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, only three of them have enacted a legislation to combat human trafficking and modern day slavery. These are Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Kenya has the  Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2010, Uganda has The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2009, while Tanzania has the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2008. As for Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan, none of them have a specific law addressing human trafficking but they are signatories to international treaties cubing modern-day slavery and human trafficking. 

According to the 2016 Trafficking In Persons Report, only Kenya and Uganda are in Tier 2, which is a classification of countries whose governments do not fully meet the Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA’s) minimum standards, (a United States of America legislation) but are making significant efforts to meet those standards.

As for Rwanda and Tanzania, they have been classified under Tier 2 Watch List, which are for countries whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to meet those standards AND:
a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;
b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking crimes, increased assistance to victims, and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials; or
c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year.

As for Burundi and South Sudan, they have been classified under Tier 3 whose classification is for the countries whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.


What you need to know about sex trafficking/slavery.

What is sex slavery/trafficking? 

Sex trafficking or slavery is the exploitation of women and children, within national or across international borders, for the purposes of forced sex work. Commercial sexual exploitation includes pornography, prostitution and sex trafficking of women and girls, and is characterized by the exploitation of a human being in exchange for goods or money. Each year, an estimated 800,000 women and children are trafficked across international borders—though additional numbers of women and girls are trafficked within countries.

Some sex trafficking is highly visible, such as street prostitution. But many trafficking victims remain unseen, operating out of unmarked brothels in unsuspecting—and sometimes suburban—neighborhoods. Sex traffickers may also operate out of a variety of public and private locations, such as massage parlors, spas and strip clubs.

Adult women make up the largest group of sex trafficking victims, followed by girl children, although a small percentage of men and boys are trafficked into the sex industry as well.

Human trafficking migration patterns tend to flow from East to West, but women may be trafficked from any country to another country at any given time and trafficking victims exist everywhere. Many of the poorest and most unstable countries have the highest incidences of human trafficking, and extreme poverty is a common bond among trafficking victims. Where economic alternatives do not exist, women and girls are more vulnerable to being tricked and coerced into sexual servitude. Increased unemployment and the loss of job security have undermined women's incomes and economic position. A stalled gender wage gap, as well as an increase in women's part-time and informal sector work, push women into poorly-paid jobs and long-term and hidden unemployment, which leaves women vulnerable to sex traffickers.


What do the Sustainable Development Goals have to do with violence against all women and girls, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation?

This is a target under SDG 5 on Gender Equality. empower all women and girls 

This is a target under SDG 5 on Gender Equality. empower all women and girls 

The Agenda 2030, which this target falls under Goal 5 on gender equality, is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. It recognizes that eliminating violence against all women and girls, in public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation,  is one of the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. 

While there have been significant progress made towards ending all forms of violence, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation towards women and girls over the last decade, a lot still remains to be done for the world to achieve this target by 2030. It requires collaborative partnership between the Governments and private sector in taking bold and transformative steps in adopting a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of violence violence towards women and girls. Governments need to step up their efforts at national level by ensuring that they have laws that prohibit all forms of violence against women and that they are enforced at the national level.