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Unpacking Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention

It is that time of the year we are obligated to bring you Sexual Assault Education. You must have seen organisations and individuals sharing this information already but let’s unpack it today. This year’s theme is Drawing Connections:Prevention Demands Equity which calls on all individuals, communities, organisations, and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect.

When did it start?

Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month (SAAM) is an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness about sexual assault and promoting prevention and survivor support. SAAM began in the United States in the 1980s, as a grassroots effort by activists and advocates to address the issue of sexual violence.

The first national SAAM was observed in April 2001, organized by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) in partnership with other advocacy organizations. The goal was to increase public awareness about sexual assault and encourage action to prevent it.

Since then, SAAM has grown into a worldwide movement, with events and activities organised in communities around the globe. The theme for SAAM changes each year, but the focus remains on promoting prevention, educating the public, and supporting survivors of sexual violence.

SAAM is recognized by many organisations and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, which provides resources and support for SAAM events and activities. It has become an important opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to come together and take action against sexual violence.

Why talk about it?

Sexual assault is a pervasive issue in Kenya that affects people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is a problem that has long been silenced due to social stigma, cultural beliefs, and lack of awareness.

In Kenya, sexual assault is defined under the Sexual Offences Act of 2006 as any act of a sexual nature that is committed without the consent of the victim. This includes rape, sexual harassment, indecent exposure, and sexual exploitation.

One of the major challenges in addressing sexual assault in Kenya is the prevailing rape culture that normalizes and justifies sexual violence against women and other marginalized groups. This culture is perpetuated by harmful stereotypes, victim-blaming, and a lack of accountability for perpetrators.

Furthermore, the reporting and prosecution of sexual assault cases in Kenya are hindered by various factors such as fear of stigma, lack of trust in the justice system, and limited resources for survivors. Many survivors of sexual assault suffer in silence, without access to adequate medical care or psychosocial support.

It is essential to raise awareness about sexual assault in Kenya and promote a culture of consent, respect, and accountability. This can be achieved through education and advocacy campaigns that challenge harmful stereotypes and promote healthy relationships, consent education, and active bystander intervention.

In your everyday life, this could look like: calling out on abuse, saying no to what you don't feel comfortable about, talking about consent with friends /family/colleagues, and creating and maintaining boundaries are some of the ways to have healthy sustainable relationships.

Additionally, there needs to be a concerted effort to support survivors of sexual assault by providing accessible and comprehensive services such as counseling, medical care, legal aid, and other forms of support.

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