The Unbroken Curse


This post is by Wanjala Wafula as part of the series ‘Culture and Human Rights: Challenging Cultural Excuses for Gender-Based Violence’ hosted by and

On a chilly August morning in 1984, the entire village of Chepkutumi, situated on the slopes of the Kulisiru hills in Bungoma county in (northern, southern, eastern or western) Kenya, woke up to the loud chants of “triumph!” Men danced with their spears and machetes hoisted towards the sky while women ulululated.  A successful circumcision ceremony!

Not one of us winked an eye nor quivered when our foreskins were cut. The piece of grass placed on our heads didn’t move, our body didn’t flinch, just as it was supposed to be when the circumcisers ravaged our foreskins. In the words of my late grandfather “all the birds died the day I was circumcised”. We had made our ancestors proud. We had made the people of our land proud.  We were successfully becoming “real” men. There was every reason to celebrate.

Statement of the Gender Dynamic Coalition at the UN Internet Governance Forum 2011

Publication Date: 
September 30, 2011
GenderIT/VNC Networkers

The 6th UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Nairobi between 27-30 September 2011, and was attended by a representative of the VNC Campaign / WLUML.  In addition to panels and workshops, the IGF brings together a number of Dynamic Coalitions working on specific themes, one of which is on gender.  This year, the VNC represenative joined the Dynamic Coalition on Gender and contributed to the statement issued on the last day of the Forum.  The statement below criticizes the continued gender imbalance in the participation and the substance of the discussions at the IGF, and supports the call issued by the Association of Progressive Communications, and others, to make human rights the theme of the IGF in 2012 and emphasise a rights-based approach instead of protectionist solutions.

Kenya: Religious leaders oppose anti-abortion clerics

Publication Date: 
September 17, 2011
The Star
Rev. Timoth Njoya during the conference at KICC. (Photo: Monicah Mwangi)

Two clerics yesterday dismissed doctors and religious leaders opposed to safe abortion as enemies of women rights. The christian and muslim clerics said the abortion debate in Kenya was demeaning to women. “In this society we are all at the mercy of men,” said Rev Timothy Njoya.

He spoke at the closing day of a women health conference organised by the Kenya Medical Association.

Women's 'sex strike' a global phenomena

Publication Date: 
September 16, 2011
Women ended armed clashes in 2 Mindanao villages by not having sex with their husbands unless the men laid down their weapons.

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - A collective launched by women in Dado, Maguindanao, to bring peace to the troubled village and nearby communities is not the first of its kind in the world.

It has its roots in Greek playwright Aristophanes'

In the play, the female characters led by Lysistrata withheld sex from their husbands as part of their strategy to secure peace and end the Peloponnesian War.

Kenya: Law passed against FGM

Publication Date: 
September 8, 2011
The Guardian
Message to UN women: No FGM (Photograph:

Kenya has become the latest African country to ban female genital mutilation, with the passing of a law making it illegal to practice or procure it or take somebody abroad for cutting. The law even prohibits derogatory remarks about women who have not undergone FGM. Offenders may be jailed or fined or both.

Defying the Odds: Lessons learnt from Men for Gender Equality Now

Publication Date: 
July, 2011

In 2001, the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) took the first steps towards creating an African network of male activists against gender-based violence. In a regional consultative meeting which was organized by FEMNET that year, Kenyan men came together to form a local initiative “Men for Gender Equality Now” (MEGEN). This Project was facilitated and supported by FEMNET from 2004 to 2008 when the project became independent.

Kenya: I was told that I deserved to die – for being a female journalist

Publication Date: 
July 3, 2011
The Guardian
Fatuma Noor

It's not always easy being a female investigative journalist, even in the west. But imagine going to do an interview and not being able to shake hands with the interviewee or indeed even being able to sit in front of him to ask questions.

In Somali culture – I grew up in a Somali family in – it is wrong to speak and raise an opinion in front of men or even to shake hands with a man of no relation to you. Even travelling for work unaccompanied by a relative is not permitted.

Somewhere on the Kenyan-Somali border, a Somali woman was chosen to be a town chief, but she fled from the town because of violent opposition from the elders. As a journalist, I tried to get comments from the Somali elders, but they then turned on me and threatened to punish me also.

Widow Cleansing: Harmful Traditional Practice

Publication Date: 
April 13, 2009

Violence against women still is universal, and while it has many roots, especially in cultural tradition and customs, it is gender inequality that lies at the cross-cultural heart of violent practices. Violence against women is deeply embedded in human history and its universal perpetration through social and cultural norms serves the main purpose of reinforcing male-dominated power structures.

The calls for “equal and inalienable rights” for all people, “without distinction of  any kind.”

Somalia: Mother of 4 Killed for Her Christian Faith

Publication Date: 
January 17, 2011
Compass Direct News

Al Shabaab militants carry out ritual slaying of Christian found to be ‘apostate.’

NAIROBI, Kenya, January 17 (CDN) — A mother of four was killed for her Christian faith on Jan. 7 on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia by Islamic extremists from al Shabaab militia, a relative said.

Widow "Cleansing" Tradition - Rights Violation

Publication Date: 
April 13, 2009

Widow cleansing dates back centuries and is practiced for example in countries like Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal, Angola, Ivory Coast, Congo and Nigeria. It gives a nod to a man from the widow’s village or her husband’s family, usually a brother or close male relative of her late husband, to force her to have sex with him – ostensibly to allow her husband’s spirit to roam free in afterlife.