'Mama' Rahma is a human rights defender who has been fighting for the rights of women and children for 25 years. She is a community organiser and member of the Mathare Social Justice Centre in Nairobi, one of a growing number of organisations leading the way to support its community through the crisis. She took it upon herself to bring change to her neighbourhood by fighting for victims of gender-based violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation.

Our partners in the field have reported major concerns about the effect of the crisis on the safety of women and girls in urban settlements, as well as the threat of increased sexual and gender based violence. On April 1st, the Kenyan Judiciary reported a spike in sexual offences over the preceding two weeks, constituting 35.8 per cent of all crimes reported.

The president’s order for citizens to ‘work from home’ and inadequate welfare provision have left many women to bear the brunt of financial instability and domestic abuse. Field projects have reported widespread feelings of frustration across a population unable to leave their houses, which creates a climate conducive to violence and abuse.

Defenders like Rahma are indispensable to the protection of basic rights at this juncture, and we must do all that we can to ensure they can continue to carry out their work.

“Community organising against oppression is a clear manifestation of humanity’s potential to change, and our own abilities to influence change as single individuals.” 'Mama' Rahma
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