The Pukiche Girl Child Foundation

4 Grassroots Activists Share Stories of COVID-19 Heightening Sexual Violence in Kenya and Nigeria

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s Global Goal 5 aims to end gender inequality in all its forms. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has undone much positive progress, with widespread reports of domestic abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM), and further gender violence only getting worse  amid lockdowns. Take action to protect marginalised communities from coronavirus by joining our Global Goal: Unite for Our Future campaign here.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-FGM campaigners Dr. Leyla Hussein OBE and Bethel Tadesse have been hosting webinars and online support groups from their base in London for grassroots activists working to end violence against girls and women all over the world.

During these sessions they have heard the struggles of those facing increased violence and abuse, and the hardships and challenges of the activists working against it. 

In this article contributed by Hussein and Tadesse, they share some of the stories (with permission) from the activists working on the ground tackling sexual violence in the most challenging of circumstances. Learn their names: Bernice Ede, Jeremiah Kipainoi, Clare Henshaw, and Ruth Kilimo.

Editor’s note: his article contains details of sexual and gender-based violence. 

“I was raped by my 17-year-old brother. He also raped my younger sister.” 

This is a sentence most of us thankfully rarely read, let alone hear directly from a traumatised young girl, telling her story for the first time. But stories like this are a daily reality for activists all over the world. 

Grassroots activists — meaning those working directly with people on the ground — are some of the most underrated and undervalued members of our societies. That’s especially true for those working with the most vulnerable girls.