In Nairobi, SAD is teaching children of primary school age how to protect themselves and others from sexual violence. Through sport and play based lessons, the children learn about their rights, and the role of social courage in the context of sexual attacks.

Joy and her two children walk to the residents’ meeting place in Kibera, a slum in southwestern Nairobi. The open gravel field is also the Sadili Oval Sports Academy’s sports field. There, the three of them meet up with other boys and girls. Together with a specialised team of trainers, they learn in a playful way what sexual violence is, what its consequences are, and how to protect themselves and others from it.

Causes and consequences of sexual violence against children

Sexual violence is widespread in Kenya, particularly in poor areas such as the Kibera slum. Attacks mainly take place at home and school. Causes of sexual violence include low social status, predominant gender roles, a lack of social structures, and insecure infrastructure in schools. The lack of measures for preventing sexual violence cements the problem that the emPower my life! project aims to combat.

Sexual violence does not only affect the boys and girls concerned psychologically, but often leads to HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. Stigmatisation, dropping out of school, sliding into situations where they are controlled by others and poverty are just some of the consequences. Sexual violence in schools is, therefore, one of the most significant barriers preventing boys and girls in Kenya from benefitting from their right to health and education.

Promoting knowledge and civil courage as tools for prevention

With this project, SAD and local partner the Sadili Oval Sports Academy are promoting the prevention of sexual violence at school and out of school. The sport and play based project will last 16 months and is aimed at six to eleven-year-old boys and girls. This takes account of the fact that sexual violence takes place in early childhood. The teaching staff use custom-designed games with tennis, rugby and basketball to provide the children with knowledge about sexual violence, HIV/AIDS and relevant health topics. The children take a critical look at gender norms and learn how to protect themselves from sexual violence as well as finding out about the role of social courage. They find out about their right to health and education, and learn to lay claim to it.

Pursuing the project in schools

To ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the project, SAD and its partner organisation are getting families, schools and authorities involved. An information event provides families with basic knowledge about sexual violence, raises their awareness of the topic and teaches them why it can help the children if their parents support them as they take part in the project. During the project, SAD and the teaching staff will develop a curriculum on the topic of sexual violence using sport and play based teaching methods. This will support the teaching staff so that they can continue raising awareness and sharing knowledge regarding sexual violence after the project has ended. In addition, SAD and its partner are working to organise six schools in Kibera in a safer manner.