Wednesday, May 02, 2007

FIDA: ELITIST OR NOT?

When Keriako Tobiko, advocate of the high court labeled FIDA as “busy bodies”, the statement attracted angry reactions from the feminist movement in Kenya.

Because Tobiko was representing former cabinet minister Julius Sunkuli in a rape case, many saw his remarks as utter disrespect for FIDA.

After all, Tobiko was arguing his client’s case, which was finally withdrawn, and a whole soap opera followed. Am sure you all know the story of how the girl in question appeared on TV after withdrawing the complaint.

In retrospect, Tobiko’s remarks may have had some truth. In the recent past, the role of FIDA has become increasingly questionable.

Though Tobiko is now Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and may have toned down his feelings about FIDA, others may not have.

Sample this: FIDA is only heard representing clients when one of the culprits is an MP or a “fat cat”. Does it mean those are the only people suffering?

Of course FIDA will say that the media is biased and does not report those small cases but how many?

As Nekessa put it, there may be many stories of people who have written to FIDA and not gotten responses.

To assess the situation, I had a chat with Jo, my friend who gave the little girl a ride. I sought to know why she did not refer the mother to FIDA.

“FIDA is not for desperate people, its all about big people and big publicity. For me I saw it as a social issue and not a political one like FIDA likes them,” said Jo.

As a lawyer, Jo apologized profusely that she did not see FIDA as a representative of the poor. For her, FIDA is all about show biz and the quest for donor money. In short, the bigger the culprit, the bigger the story.

FIDA will argue that the introduction of fees may be important to sustain the organizations, but the organization moved offices to Lavington, a posh area.

Whether that place is accessible or not, am sure that is not within my province to determine.

It may seem like harsh judgment to FIDA but I called their offices and they promised to call back. Am still waiting.

Back to the question- is FIDA a mere busy body?

Is it there to chase big wigs or is it for the Kenyans with brown teeth and bad breath?

In my opinion, I don’t think so. I have met quite a number of people stranded at the law courts wondering where the FIDA lawyers are, only to be told that the lawyers came and adjourned the cases and left.

Having offices in Lavington is not the best gesture, how many people can access the offices? How far do they walk or are expected to drive??

With the rising cases of rape, violence against women among other crimes in Kenya, one would have expected FIDA to have their strong presence in Naivasha, Kiambu, Nyeri, and Kisumu among many other areas that such crimes are prevalent.

If you do not hear of FIDA in such areas, what do you expect of those silent sufferers who can only write a letter and hope it is followed up?

Be the judge!

Ends

4 comments:

Wangari said...

FIDA is not the only organization dealing with sexual violence cases. There are a number of other organizations and each one of them is overwhelmed.

Of course the media will report cases that have some form of national prominence involving well known public figures etc. What on earth would they stand to gain from taking up only high profile cases?

I do wish you could speak to them and hear their side of the story.I am aware that you have tried. They may have one or two issues but they really are not simply a money-making outfit, I think that is an unfair accusation.

Alexander said...

Wangari, at KenyaImagine we have contacted FIDA's Executive Director Jane Onyango and have asked her (or rather: offered her) to comment and present her side of the story. We'll see whether she responds.

Sincerely, Alexander

Alexander said...

We are still reminding FIDA. Maybe it is a lesson in accountability for them.

Alexander

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