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January 19, 2019

NGO partners with NTSA to stop sexual assault in matatus

#MyMatatuStory aims to educate and sensitise conductors and drivers on how to offer safe spaces to public transport users. /COURTESY
#MyMatatuStory aims to educate and sensitise conductors and drivers on how to offer safe spaces to public transport users. /COURTESY

People who are sexually harassed in public service vehicles can report incidents to the transport and safety authority.

Equality Now, an NGO that fights for the right of women and girls, has partnered with NTSA to reduce cases of sexual harassment in matatus.

Through the campaign dubbed #MyMatatuStory, it also aims at educating and sensitising conductors and drivers on how to offer safe spaces to public transport users.

“The idea of safe spaces is that the rights of women and girls are not only violated in private spaces such as homes but also in public spaces and for us there is nothing more public than using a public means of transport from point A to B,” end sexual violence expert Judy Gitau told the Star on Tuesday in a phone interview.

The two organisations will be launching the safe spaces campaign with Embassava sacco whose touts were accused of assaulting and stripping a woman naked last year.

Read: Men who stripped woman in video to be prosecuted - DPP

Matatus that wish to be part of the campaign will have a sticker written nganya safe (safe matatu).

It will also have a phone number that a victim can use to report the case.

Victims of sexual harassment can report the abuse through the NTSA Mobile number 0709932000 or 0206632000 or via email [email protected]

Victims will be expected to report the offence, name of the sacco, time of the abuse among other details.

Women are often groped and touched inappropriately in matatus and suffer in silence because of lack of places to report such incidents.

“People think that it is a joke and also think that it is okay to normalize such abuses. Sexual harassment is actually a crime and people need to report and action taken against the perpetrators.” Gitau added.

Globally, incidences of sexual harassment and sexual violence in public transportation have been widely reported but not much has been done about it especially here in Kenya.

The Embassava incident resulted in the "My Dress My Choice" protests as women marched in solidarity with the women who was stripped by the touts.

The campaign called for the arrest and prosecution of sexual violence perpetrators in public service vehicles. 

Despite its success, and prosecutions of the culprits such indecent violations are still rife however in public transport with the latest reports indicating an escalation to include rape of passengers including minors en route to their destinations.

“Harassment can also be verbal where someone speaks to you in a manner that is over sexualised. They need not even touch you but when they talk you with a sexual innuendo that is sexual harassment,” Gitau said.

The long-term impact of this campaign is looking to have the NTSA establish a gender desk where complaints that are reported, data is collected and action taken against the perpetrators.


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