Meet the Eneza Club!
At New Horizon Secondary School, our Eneza Club has 65 students who come consistently every week. Today, we talked about the various forms of sexual violence.
This session in particular was super sensitive and so we started by reminding the students of the importance of maintaining confidentiality and listening to others without judgement. We explored different stories and experiences of sexual violence that happens in our communities. At the end of the lesson, a female student approached me and shared that she was a survivor of multiple rape occurrences which happened a couple of years ago. She had not shared about her incident with anyone else and after the session, decided that she did not want to be silent about her case.
I was amazed by her courage. Students like her are the reason why we do what we do through Eneza Clubs. Eneza means #makeitknown, and want to #makeitknown that it’s okay to speak out against abuse so that the abusers can be stopped.
Lydia Matioli, Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator
Eneza club changing mindsets!
Today, the atmosphere was full of energy and I was impressed by how the students reviewed the different forms of violence that we learned in the previous lesson. They even gave specific examples from their communities.
One of the students suggested that a woman’s outfit can be a cause of rape. I asked the class how many of them had the same mindset and all of the students raised their hands except one brave boy named Justus. Justus said, “Times have changed and now that we are living in the 21st century, women have rights to express themselves in any way that they feel comfortable. It can be through their mode of dressing, action or speech, and the fact that a lady chooses to wear a short skirt or dress doesn’t mean that she is inviting sexual advancements towards her or provoking rape, she is just wearing what makes her feel comfortable.”
It is the 21’st century and women are allowed to do whatever they want as it is their right. They can wear whatever they want want to wear. So if they pass by a group of men, and they’re wearing a short skirt, that’s what makes her be confident. She doesn’t have the idea in her mind that she wants to be raped or that she’s invoking people to rape her. She’s only doing that to raise her confidence or maybe she feels okay to wear that mini skirt, or a short dress, or whatever. So I don’t agree that it’s a cause of rape or sexual violence.
While Justus was sharing his opinion, some of the ladies in the class seemed to be relating and they started giving him silent applause even before he finished his statement. When I asked the class, again, who agrees with this, the majority of the class raised their hands.
Justus’ remarks were a true reflection of what Eneza is all about, changing the mindsets of the young people in the room who have been socialized to objectify women therefore perpetrating violence against them. Eneza creates a safe space for these young men and women to openly express their thoughts and concerns on matters related to sexual violence, and to agree or disagree on the best way forward in eradicating sexual violence in their communities.
At first, 64 students strongly believed that how women dress provokes rape. After Justus shared his perspective, only 9 still had mixed reactions. The other 56 students changed their perspective because of Justus. My hope is that by the end of Eneza, the 9 will align with their fellow students by advocating against victim-blaming.
The students in our Eneza Club just got back from break. My biggest highlight was that despite the long break, the students were still able to remember the different forms of sexual violence that we learned in previous sessions.
One high school junior shared how sexual harassment by teachers is rampant in their school. She shared how one teacher has been making advances at her which makes her uncomfortable. After the session, she had gathered the courage to report the matter to the school administration.
In this same class, another female student shared that had been in denial about the reality of rape. She said, ”I don’t believe rape exists. All I know is that when someone is raped, it is their fault because they put themselves in the situation.” Her comments were met with intense disagreements by other students who shared real life stories of people who had experienced rape due to situations that they could not control.
After allowing the students to discuss their viewpoints, she left the session with a changed mindset.
Empowering others through storytelling
Elite Secondary School is another school that we work with in Kibera. In our Eneza Club today, we discussed the effects of sexual violence. I shared my story with the whole class of how I was raped and the traumatic effect it has had on my life. One girl, who had been so shy during our sessions, shared that she was also a survivor. She boldly stated that she is a survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM) and wants to use her story to encourage and empower girls who have undergone “the cut.” Though it can’t be undone, it can be prevented for other innocent girls who are unaware of violent cultural practices that do not respect the voice of the girl child.
She shared that she wants to help the country fight against FGM by helping the leaders to identify the places in the forest where the girls are taken to be cut. She strongly believes that girls should understand their rights and know that they have a voice that should be respected regardless of their age.
She felt empowered and encouraged because she has never shared her story with anyone before. She said she will create awareness about FGM and won’t be stopped until it comes to an end.
Building a safer kibera
The walls of Silverspring Secondary School are made of iron sheets. During this time, it is very hot. Though the students were tired from the heat, all 50 students showed up for Eneza Club.
Their homework from the previous class was to observe their community and identify ways that they can prevent sexual violence. They had so many great ideas! Their ideas included cleaning bushy areas and putting lights in dark alleys where girls are often raped. They wanted to encourage people to build bathrooms made of doors that can be locked because most of the bathrooms are made of sacks which makes girls vulnerable to sexual assault when using the bathroom. The students mentioned that they have to stop waiting for the government to act, and to take full responsibility in making Kibera safe.
These students are excited to be the solution for building a safer Kibera.
Mobilizing for change at eneza!
Today at New Horizons Secondary School, we helped the students understand the causes and effects of sexual violence. We discussed the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of sexual violence and how they can help someone who may be exhibiting those signs.
One girl shared a story on what she observed in her community. There are local bars that sell home-brewed alcohol to students under eighteen. From that, she has watched her friends get sick, drop out of school, or get raped at these bars. Many of these home brews are dangerous because its mixed with poisonous compounds including fuel and embalming fluid to speed up the fermentation process—some have died from drinking it.
She wants to be part of changing Kibera by mobilizing people in the area to destroy the local bars that have a reputation for making deadly drinks, selling it to minors, and being a hub for rape. She will also write to the area chief to seek solutions on how to have stronger protective systems in place for women in Kibera.
Ways Eneza Is Defeating Sexual Violence!
Today at New Horizon Secondary School, Eneza Club students came up with approaches on how we can practically implement strategies for sexual violence in our communities. They boys were very engaged and asked great questions about how they can use their role as men to keep their communities safe.
There was one question in particular that was really captivating. A senior named Bony shared of an incident that happened yesterday: A man was caught raping a 7 year old girl in his neighbourhood and he was attacked by the mob whose intention was to kill him. We call these incidences “mob justice.” The police arrived but did not do anything. Instead, they watched the mob unleash their fury on the rapist. Bony asked, “As an Eneza Club member, I want justice for this little girl. What should I do in light of mob justice?”
This was a very hard question, because the mob was imparting justice that the authorities could not give them. As upsetting as this issue is, we as human beings still do not have the right to take another person’s life. We still need to report the incident, even though our justice system has a lot of gaps. Laws that protect survivors exist and reporting demands that these laws are implemented in our communities. We encouraged him by acknowledging the fact that it was good that he noticed the gaps in our justice system. Eneza Clubs exist to equip students to be a part of fixing these gaps in our legislations and judiciary.
leaders emerge as eneza ends
As the first phase of the Eneza Club is coming to an end, one of the high school girls in shared with us that her experience has been impactful not only to her, but for the whole school. She was so happy to be part of the club and she wants the lessons learned to transcend to the community. Eneza Clubs not only teaching our students about ending sexual violence, but our clubs also help students to grow in confidence and to vocally share their opinions.
Through her speech, we saw a young leader who is yearning for change. She was tired of how the community treats women and she wants to be a part of changing the world for the better. She wants to go back to her community and teach others about the need for respect, equality, and justice for women. She believes the best solution to ending sexual violence will come from those affected by it.
One of our student leaders in Eneza Clubs told us today that he is thankful for the knowledge he’s been learning in our clubs. Before, he didn’t realize that he was supporting sexist comments and harmful actions that perpetuate sexual violence. Now, he is strongly against acts that result in sexual or domestic violence in his community. He says that no one else is standing against the rampant violence in Kibera, so he wants to use his knowledge to create awareness about sexual violence. He also said that the experience in Eneza has been helpful because the topic of sexual violence is not in the academic curriculum, yet it is important to learn because affects us all.
From his participation in class, we know that he really wants to make a difference. We are glad to be providing a platform where he can learn and create strategies and approaches that will end violence in his community.
Phase one complete!
The first phase of Eneza Clubs is now complete! In a few months, we’ll be starting the second phase which will support student groups to facilitate dialogue around ending sexism and promoting equality and respect. Week after week, we have seen the perspective of these young minds shift from tolerating a culture of abuse to advocating to end cultural beliefs that perpetuate sexual violence. We have listened to so many heartbreaking stories of violence from the different communities within Kibera—East Africa’s largest slum. Yet, the students have so much hope that they will be able to change these narratives.
Students have practically applied the lessons learned in Eneza. We’ve had survivors come out and share their stories of pain with us because we created a safe space without judgement. We have laughed at the crazy activities and jokes that were part of the lesson, cried when we needed to, became angry at the realities of injustice, spoke up to voice our opinion, and became silent when our silence would speak louder our words. This is what makes Eneza different than any other club—as we discuss difficult and sensitive topics, we end by sharing the hope that each one of us carries. We can all work together in ending the cycle of sexual violence in our communities—and these students will lead us.