Lessons on sexual violence through play
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Children from a Kenyan slum are learning important lessons about sexual violence, all while playing their favourite sport.

In the Kibera slum in Nairobi, children gather to play games and sports leaving with a lot more than they expected. For so many of the kids, being in close contact with the opposite gender can be a strange or even a fearful idea. Most kids have negative attitudes towards the opposite sex.

 “If I hold a boy's hand they think that I love them.’’

“I don’t play with girls.”

“Boys should make their own teams and girls their own teams.”

A Kibera-based organisation is putting together sport camps for local children to understand gender and sexual assault. The camp uses body awareness activities, which help kids who are hesitant to play with the opposite gender  understand the body a little differently.

These activities also break the preconceptions and address issues which might cause fear or aggression. The project hopes to extend the knowledge to the community through these kids.

Such programmes are imperative in Kenya due to the high sexual assault rates. According to USAID, 45 percent of women between 15 and 49 have experience physical or sexual violence, but many cases go unreported due to the limited social resources in certain areas. With such a high number, it is important for women to not only understand what to do when they are assaulted but also when they learn of an assault.

One female participant at a recent activity camp, an eight-year-old girl called Emma Ogeto, says that the biggest thing she learned was that “Apart from playing and learning new games, I have also learned that I should always report when I see someone being bullied at school and I should not just watch and do nothing when someone is not treated right.”

 At the same time some children have a notion that “intervening” means violence and using aggression to fight the attacker. Games such as capture the flag and Tom and Jerry are just some activities that help kids deal with these issues

The project is called emPower My Life!,  which is run by the Swiss Academy for Development (SAD) along with its partner in Kenya Sadili Oval Sports Academy. This programme is unique as it takes account of the fact that sexual assault can be prevented by working with children.

SAD and Sadili are also working to build a network to provide services for those who have been affected by sexual violence or gender-based violence. Therefore, even beyond the programme ,children are able to find help in a safe and accepting environment.


Sportanddev.org Intern