A Phenomenological Study of Sexual Harassment and Violence Among Girls Attending High Schools in Urban Slums, Nairobi, Kenya

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Author/Publisher: Benta A. Abuya, Elijah O. Onsomu, DaKysha Moore, and Jackline Sagwe, 2012
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Recent research in the global context shows that sexual violence remains an unaddressed problem in the education sector. While both male and female students are affected, there still exists a gender gap. Young women and girls experience much higher levels of violence that reflect broader gender inequalities in society (Garcia-Moreno, Jansen, Ellsberg, Heise, & Watts, 2005). Overall, the literature suggests that sexual violence is a violation of girls’ and women’s human rights and is detrimental to their physical and psychological health. Sexual violence limits the ability of girls and young women to achieve their educational potential, reduces opportunities to enhance family health, and limits their social and economic development (Garcia-Moreno et al., 2005). 

For the current study, the researchers worked from the premise that sexual violence is still common among young Kenyan women ages 15 24. Among this age group, 31% were reported to have experienced sexual violence (CBS, 2004). Given this trend, the International Conference on Population and Development goal of achieving universal access to reproductive health for the world’s women by 2015 is an elusive, and perhaps unrealistic, goal (United Nations General Assembly, 1999). This study brought to fore the narratives of school girls in Kenya to contribute their voices to the World Summit’s recommitment to governments all over the world to pay attention to issues affecting girls’ and women’s reproductive health by 2015. Considering this backdrop, we sought to answer the question: What are the experiences of girls attending Kamu and Lafama schools with respect to SHV in and out of school?


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