The inspiring and heartbreaking stories behind a Kenyan village's women

Screenshot of Cultures of Resistance Network film about Kenyan women of Senchen village.

The village of Senchen is unusual in paternalistic Kenya — it is a self-sufficient community run entirely by women.

Senchen's women make decisions, they create bead crafts to sell to tourists, they raise children, they farm. They share everything among themselves.

But Senchen is also haunted. The women there, no matter how empowered, cannot forget why the village exists and why they are there: rape.

Kenya is a former British colony, and for more than 50 years, the British military has maintained training facilities there. And that presence has led to more than 600 official rape claims against British soldiers since 1975.

The British military has cleared all soldiers of wrongdoing, and the Kenyan government, which the British pays handsomely, says it lost all the supporting documents. Meanwhile, the villages have shamed the victims and cast them out.

In the mid-1990s, a woman named Beatrice Chili formed Senchen as an oasis for these women, many of whom are raising children who have light skin.

The Cultures of Resistance Network has produced a powerful documentary about Senchen and the inspiring — and heartbreaking — story of the women there.

One woman, holding her light-skinned daughter, weeps as she says, "Everybody hates me, just because I was raped young."

The 13 minutes of the video will be something you won't soon forget.

The cost of dictators' plundering

It's not exactly news that dictators who loot their nation's treasuries are stealing money that could have gone to things like health and education, things that could have helped lift people out of poverty.

But now, David Cay Johnston writes in The Daily Beast, we have a good idea of just how immense that theft has been.

Jim Henry, who calls himself an investigative economist, scoured 45 years of official statistics from nearly 200 countries around the world, comparing economic activity per capita to the wealth that is actually there. Those numbers have been around for decades, but no one ever looked at them.

A comparison of the numbers finds that some countries have more economic activity per capita than the world average, but the people still live in abject poverty, Johnston writes. The reason is that the country's leaders have diverted much of the wealth into offshore bank accounts and tax havens.

How much has been stolen? Henry calculates that since 1970, the people in 150 mostly poor countries have been ripped off to the extent of $12.1 trillion, a figure that does not include wealthy nations such as the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

And Henry is no crackpot. He's a Harvard-educated economist and lawyer. Johnston writes:

From his home in Sag Harbor, near the tip of Long Island [New York], Henry has painstakingly built massive spreadsheets to reveal the mismatches that indicate capital flight. He then fleshes out what the data show by interviewing bankers and bank regulators, government economists, law enforcement officials, and even some of the retainers who help kleptocrats loot the countries they rule.

Collectively, those 150 countries owe $8 trillion in foreign-held debt. In other words, if there was some way the missing $12.1 trillion could be returned, the foreign debt for 150 developing nations could be completely paid off and still leave $4 trillion to invest in health, education and strengthened economies.

Remember, links, tips and accounts of the response to any crisis anywhere in the world are always welcome at dstockman@ncronline.org.

[Dan Stockman is national correspondent for Global Sisters Report. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.]

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