Wangu Kanja is a survivor of sexual violence who set up the Wangu Kanja Foundation in Kenya in 2005.
Please tell us about your organisation and what it does.
The Wangu Kanja Foundation works towards addressing sexual violence: prevention, protection and response. But our broader vision is to have a society that is safe and free from any sort of violence.
Have you seen any changes in the way sexual violence is dealt with in Kenya since you began your work?
We have created awareness around sexual violence, so that more people are reporting their cases. But that does not mean we have put an end to it yet.
One of the big challenges is stigma and discrimination. Survivors face a lot of stigma from their family and community, making them less likely to speak out. The process of reporting a case is also quite complicated: you have to present yourself to the hospital, to the police station, and then, when the police have investigated your case, to the judiciary. We need to make this process easier and less stressful for survivors.
How can we break down stigma against survivors?
We need to start having open conversations at all levels of society about sexual violence. It is still seen as a private issue. We have to help people understand that if one person is affected, everyone else is affected, directly or indirectly.
We must also shift the blame from the victim to the perpetrator. The first question most people ask is, ‘How were you dressed?’ or ‘Did you provoke them?’ People need to recognise that it is never the survivor’s fault. Sexual violence can happen to anyone at any time, however cautious you have been.