March | 2016 |

Monthly Archives: March 2016

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Child Marriage Is a Violation of Human Rights

Category : Naya Blog

Image Courtesy: SOS Children’s Villages

 

By Mackiche Mackiche (@mackiche_victor )

A forced marriage is a marriage that is performed under duress and without the full and informed consent or free will of both parties, in this case the final decisions are usually made by the parents.

In most of our communities in Kenya some parents still believe that they are the ones who know who is best for their children when it comes to marriage.

Forgetting all that these forced marriages come with, sexual abuse. Rape and sexual abuse is common in these marriages because women right to consent is likely to be ignored. In fact, evidence suggests that over 45% all rape is committed in marriages and these incidents are likely not to come the attention of the relevant authorities than those committed by strangers.

Husbands in these cases do not know that any situation in which an individual is forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse.

In addition, these women whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are thought to be at a higher risk of experiencing multiple and escalating assaults. Research also indicates that women who are raped by their husbands or partners are likely to suffer severe psychological effects because of the prolonged level of fear they are likely to experience.

Government should formulate strong policies against forced marriages and even domestic violence against women to avoid such cases.

Parents should also never force their children to get married to someone they don’t want simply because these men are able raise some amounts in name of dowry. This gives these men power to use and walk all over their children.

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Let’s Talk about Shisha

Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Lifestyle trends and styles tend to change every year. Some of them have become an integral part of the local culture like going to a local pub for a pint or two. Shisha smoking has been here for a long time but it has quickly become the first choice leisure activity for young people.

We often see young people gathered for shisha smoking sessions at certain cafes and bars in the name of having fun but do these young people really know the true effects of the habit on their health? It’s really strange to me when everyone knows about extremely harmful nature of cigarettes but smoking shisha is somehow considered to be completely safe and risk free practice.

There is a misconception that shisha is not as bad as cigarettes because the tobacco in it is flavored and passes through water first. The truth of the matter is shisha smoking can be as damaging, addictive, and dangerous as cigarettes. It actually contains nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, such as arsenic and lead.

According to a research carried out by the World Health Organization, the volume of smoke inhaled in an hour-long shisha session is estimated to be the equivalent of smoking between 100 and 200 cigarettes. The research also revealed that shisha smoking can cause a wide range of long-term health risks such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy.

Young people should understand that even if you use tobacco-free shisha, you’re still at risk from the carbon monoxide and any toxins in the coal or charcoal used to burn the shisha. Inhaling tobacco smoke, whether it’s from shisha or cigarettes, is never going to be good for your health.

But ending non communicable diseases is  not just a choice that young people have to make, policy makers must do their part in ensuring a conducive environment for fighting non communicable diseases in Kenya.

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Meaningfully Involve Young People in Policy Processes

Category : Naya Blog

Image Courtesy: youthhealthparticipation.com

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

For us to bring tremendous social and economic benefits in this country, we need to involve all young people in matters that touch around governance, voice, accountability and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Youth participation means better decisions and increased efficiency.

Young people are both tomorrow’s leaders, parents, professionals and workers and today’s assets. If properly supported and given the right opportunities, girls and boys, young women and young men can play a significant part in lifting themselves, their families, communities and the country out of all problems that they face.

Effective youth participation is all about creating opportunities for young people to be involved mostly in influencing, shaping, designing and contributing to policy and the development of services and programmes. These opportunities are usually created through developing a range of formal and informal mechanisms for youth participation from youth advisory groups to focus groups, from on-going consultation work to supporting youth-led projects.

There are many reasons for including young people in decision-making. Evidence shows that all policies and programmes designed after consultation with young people are more likely to be effective. By involving young people you are more likely to get it right the first time and avoid wasting time and money on services young people don’t want to use.

Involving young people in decision-making also strengthens community capacity. It builds a broader base of citizen involvement and creates stronger and more inclusive communities. Youth participation is necessary in the development of active citizenship because it balances young people’s social rights with their responsibilities.

Research has shown that young people who are given a chance to take part in decision-making activities are more likely to increase their confidence and self-belief, exercise positive career choices and have greater involvement and responsibility in the future. It has basically contributed to positive youth development

Lastly, youth participation challenges negative stereotypes of young people and help break down barriers between adults and young people. Involving young people in decision-making can improve attitudes towards understanding about young people and create a greater awareness of youth issues in an in any institution.

Youth participation is a right every young person is entitled to. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all young people under the age of 18 have the right to participate in decision-making. It recognizes their rights to express their opinions, to have their opinions considered in decisions that affect them and to receive and give information and ideas.

If we want to have a better future then we need to involve young people in all decision making activities. We need to equip them will skills and tools to propel this country ahead. Young people are valuable assets and we need to invest in them

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Child Marriage is a Killer of Dreams

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Category : Naya Blog

Image Courtesy: Voice of America

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Adhiambo Monica’s marriage at age 15 in East seme ward Kisumu County destroyed her hopes of becoming a lawyer. “I wanted to work hard and become a lawyer but now I have no more hopes.” All is lost. It hurts when I see lawyers on TV. I wish it was me acting as the defense council of the accused in the court of law.”

“I faced a lot of problems in my marriage. I was young and didn’t know what being a good wife entailed. Life became more difficult especially when I was pregnant as I had to care for my husband, do the house chores, work in the farm, and walk to the clinic under the scorching sun”

Globally, marriage is often idealized as ushering in love, happiness and joy. However it’s not the same case for Adhiambo Monica and many other girls in rural Kenya who are often married off at a very young age. According to them marriage is among the worst things that could ever happen to them. It is estimated that one in three girls in developing countries Kenya included is married before age 18 and one in nine before turning age 15.

Early marriage/child marriage has dire lifelong consequences. It leads to school dropout, marital rape, risk of experiencing domestic violence, risk of HIV transmission, and a range of health problems due to early childbearing

For Kenya to achieve the UN sustainable Development Goals adopted in September 2015 which includes eliminating child marriage as the key target by 2030 for advancing gender equality, the government should; Empower young girls with information and choices; Ensure girls access quality education; Engage and educate parents and community members about child marriage; Establish and implement stronger legal framework against child marriage and lastly Ensure true coordination across various sectors including education, health, justice and economic development to fight child marriage.

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