The post below has been sent to us for publication. We hope Anthony Kitimo will also share with us the positive impact these women’s networks have for the women affected and if some initiatives led by the government and/or NGOs are working and making a difference.
Women miseries in Kasighau Mining Zones
In the hot scorchy sun in the middle of the forest just in the periphery of Tsavo West National Park in Kasighau, Taita-Taveta County, where dangerous animals inhibit causing risks to miners, a group of women in midst men are busy in the huge deep trenches digging up soil in search of precious stones.
The crowd by far looks promising as there is high potential of hitting precious minerals but very little is being achieved due to various challenges being faced by miners but to women seems more than their men colleagues in the industry.
Sexual harassment, gender discrimination and inferiority are some of the issues women in the mining zones are facing so as to get part in the exercise.
“Most of the mining zones are owned by men, to get a chance to work in the quarry, we have to bribe them and due to high poverty index, we sometimes have to sleep with them so as to get opportunity. We have no otherwise since we have children to take care and mining seems to be the only way to earn here,” Ms Mary Mwaluma described the situation.
She added, “That is not enough, after we finish our day mining, we are sometimes frisked in our private parts to ensure that we do not hide any precious stones in our genitals. This real affects most women psychologically”.
Mrs Mwaluma said seeking sexual favors from women working in the mining zones has not become a common thing in most mines. We are worried we might be infected with different sexual transmitted disease since most men do not use protection.
Apart from various sexual harassment, women in the mines are being discriminated and considered weak sect. Due to this, they do not earn same income compared to their male counterparts.
“It is a pity despite undergoing a number of abuses, we are sometimes paid half the salary compared to that of men. We are also considered second whenever mining blocks are being allocated, men are usually allocated first then women are considered whenever blocks remain,” said one of the women miner.
Though the complaints have been tabled to the Kenyan Senate Adhoc Committee on Natural Resources led by Senator Agnes Zani, very little has changed as women continue facing such abuses hoping one day they would strengthen their movements to champion for their rights.
Natural Resources Alliance of Kenya, (KeNRA) has been working with women in the area in trying to address their issues through sharing their difficulties with various groups and networks.
In the mining zones, the exercise is done by hand, very little to no investment in machinery mining techniques as they try to mine various precious gemstones ranging from Tsavorite, red and green garnets, ruby, blue sapphire, pink sapphire, green tourmalines, yellow tourmalines, rhodolites and kyanites.
By Anthony Kitimo
KeNRA Information & Liaison