Art in its many diverse forms has been used by generations for as long as human beings have existed to communicate, reinforce and preserve societal and historical aspects of cultures and now a group of youth in Siaya are giving their art a new direction.
Along the streets of Siaya town art has lately become a common sight to see, some forms of art in public spaces and along trenches depicting messages discouraging gender based violence against women.
Stephen Opiyo, a 28 year old free-lance artist says his intention is to use art to awaken the society in combating the vice that has long been reinforced by the patriarchal system that provides male privileges while trampling the quest for equality among both genders, more so in rural Kenya.
“We have been for so long indoctrinated by society that a man is superior and stronger while women are seen as lesser beings and property, this is the root cause of many gender based violence cases and not enough is being done to remedy this retrogressive mindset, so my contribution to this society is to use my gift and reach as many people as I can through my art,” said Opiyo.
In June 2021, the Government of Kenya made a bold declaration to end Gender-Based Violence including sexual violence in the nation by 2026 this was accompanied by a commitment to intensify its campaigns to end these violations through a series of 12 commitments that would bring an end to the systemic hurdles that allow GBV to thrive.
According to data from the National Crime Research Center the rate of reported cases in Siaya County as at 2021 showed gender based violence including domestic violence at 6.7 per cent against the national 9.2 per cent.
With over 40 per cent of women in Kenya likely to face physical and or Sexual Gender Based Violence including lifetime physical and or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime, and about one in five girls facing child marriage, the country has much to do in eradicating this menace.
Such violations are worsened by crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic and crises that often relate to electoral cycles.
Opiyo and his team of five like-minded peers including two females, one being a 29 year old GBV survivor, have taken it upon themselves to educate and sensitize the public on GBV and its vices in an effort to make a positive contribution to what the Kenyan Government is valiantly trying to achieve in ending such cases.
By Calvin Otieno