Human Rights Defender of the Month: Jaqueline Mutere

Jaqueline Mutere’s motivation to establish Grace Agenda was a response to the post-election sexual violence of 2007 and 2008 in Kenya. Additionally, as a survivor of sexual violence which resulted into conception of a child, and following the experience of other survivors, Jaqueline identified the need to form an organisation that advocates for reparations for survivors of sexual violence. 

“I was sexually violated, conceived and had a child. It is the path of dealing with the trauma, working, and walking through the pain, and surviving the experience that inspired the initiation of the community-based organisation”

Jaqueline Mutere, Founder and Director of Grace Agenda Tweet

In her work, one of the key challenges she faces is bridging the gap between the survivors’ expectations from the government and vice versa. For the government to give reparations, the survivor needs to have documentation to show that they qualify to take the government to court. Unfortunately, the burden of proof falls on the survivor. Survivors on the other hand believe that it is the government’s responsibility to provide reprieve, relief, and support.

“I noticed that others in the country like internally displaced people (IDPs) are acknowledged, recognised and compensated while survivors of sexual violence were only referenced in reports. Among the IDPs, many suffered the double tragedy of being a survivor of sexual violence. This is what inspired the walk towards seeking reparations from the government and assurance of non-repetition of the violence.”

Jaqueline Mutere, Founder and Director of Grace Agenda Tweet

Moreover, women and children face stigma associated with sexual violence. Another challenge she faces is that some civil society organisations view victims of sexual violence as a source for funding. Furthermore, there is limited knowledge on survivor-centred approaches, and donors are reluctant to fund projects related to sexual violence.

Jaqueline believes that national actors in Kenya should provide compensation and restitution, sensitively and speedily try sexual violence cases, and endeavour to embrace grassroots organisations that work with survivors. They should also adhere to international instruments Kenya has signed, and train officers to have a human-centred response while keeping peace during conflict.

Regional actors need to hold governments accountable for actions and omissions and engage protection actors on the ground to ensure human rights defenders are supported in their work. International actors should take culprits to international courts after investigations to ensure access to justice, Jaqueline says.

Despite all the challenges Jaqueline faces, the women, and children she supports, and the reality of the long-term effects of mental and physical trauma motivate her to continue promoting and protecting human rights.

See more HRDs of the Month

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Human Rights Defender of the Month: Mariam Nakibuuka

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Human Rights Defender of the Month: Ana Taban

Ana Taban, which means ‘I am Tired’ in Arabic, was established in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya out of frustration of South Sudanese artists with several issues related to the civil war in the country. This was after another conflict broke out at the Presidential Palace in Juba a few months after the signing of a peace deal.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Jaqueline Mutere

Jaqueline Mutere’s motivation to establish Grace Agenda was a response to the post-election sexual violence of 2007 and 2008 in Kenya. Additionally, as a survivor of sexual violence which resulted into conception of a child, and following the experience of other survivors, Jaqueline identified the need to form an organisation that advocates for reparations for survivors of sexual violence.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Ocen Ivan Kenneth

Ocen Ivan Kenneth is a Program Director at Foundation for Development and Relief Africa (FIDRA), with more than 10 years’ experience working in the human rights field. Ivan’s ambitions for change focus on building inner peace, defending human rights and empowering local communities using theatre and storytelling. He creates a space where people from the community share their personal stories of trauma and resilience as well as identify mechanisms of healing.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Sandra Aceng

Sandra Aceng is an outspoken and energetic woman human rights defender (WHRD). She is a gender and ICT researcher and policy analyst for Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) where she coordinates the Women ICT Advocacy Group, advocating for internet access for all. In addition, she writes on various platforms such as Global Voices, Freedom House, and Impakter Magazine. Her regular contributions to Wikimedia Uganda often focus on profiling WHRDs, female politicians, and journalists.

Human Rights Defender of the Month: Chantal Mutamuriza

Chantal Mutamuriza does not wait for problems to be solved. When the Burundian woman human rights defender (WHRD) encounters a problem, she will seek a solution there and then. When hundreds of thousands Burundians had to flee from political unrest in 2015, many of them were stranded in refugee camps with little economic opportunity or access to education. In her problem-solving spirit, Chantal felt compelled to act: she quit her job to put her skills and network to use and founded the NGO Light For All.

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