Kenya: Report Examines Women's Experiences in Nairobi Slums
Wednesday, July 14, 2010 10:45 AM

Amnesty International has released a report documenting women’s experiences living in Kenyan slums. The report, entitled Insecurity and Indignity: Women's experiences in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, states that "women and girls in Nairobi's slums live under the constant threat of sexual violence." As a result, these women and girls fear leaving their shacks at night and avoid using communal toilets.
Amnesty attributes this fear to the government’s failure to enforce regulatory and planning laws, as well as a general lack of policing within the slums. Violence against women is rarely prosecuted, creating a hostile living environment for women and girls. Public safety services were also cited as necessary to the improvement of women’s lives within the slums. 
For decades, slums and informal settlements have not been formally recognized. Although Kenya has national policies in place which expressly recognize the rights to sanitation, planning laws and regulations are frequently not enforced in these areas. Godfrey Odongo, a researcher at Amnesty explains the existence of "a huge gap between what the government commits to do, and what is going on in the slums every day." The government’s failure to enforce regulatory sanitation laws allow some landlords and slum operators to create living spaces without proper toilets or shower facilities.
Individual stories are highlighted throughout the report. One 19-year-old woman, Amina, was attacked while walking to a slum latrine in the early evening hours. Four men were prevented from raping her when her cries alerted local residents to her plight.
Amnesty’s call to action urges the Kenyan government to address gendered violence and guarantee safe access to water and sanitation. Specifically, it asks the government to:
  • “Ensure equal protection under the law to all the people living in informal settlements including by applying and enforcing legislation requiring landlords to construct toilets/latrines and bathrooms in the immediate vicinity of each household...
  • Institute other measures to improve security including by increasing the level of street lighting in the informal settlements.”