NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Pop star Madonna was reduced to tears during a trip to Kenya as she listened to a man describe how his five-year-old daughter had been recently raped by a neighbor in Nairobi’s Kibera slum.
The U.S. singer met the man during a visit to Kibera, one of Africa’s biggest slums, on Saturday and Sunday. She had gone there to see how she could improve the lives of its residents, a spokesman said.
“This was an incredibly powerful and disturbing conversation about the realities of violence in these people’s lives,” said Trevor Neilson, who manages Madonna’s Raising Malawi and Ray of Light foundations, and accompanied her on the trip.
“These stories brought Madonna to tears,” Neilson told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The “Material Girl” singer, who took her four children to the east African country, posted a video on Instagram showing them cleaning streets, clearing gutters and painting murals.
Madonna also met Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Monday to discuss working with her charity to scale up maternal and child health programs and initiatives against gender violence.
Kenyatta’s charity Beyond Zero, which provides mobile clinics offering basic health services to Kenyans in remote areas, recently introduced safe spaces for victims to report gender based violence.
“Her (Madonna’s) basic belief is that no child, no woman should be attacked anywhere. Period,” Neilson said.
“There needs to be a bright light shone on this problem, which creates an environment that enables the victims to come forward ... and forces law enforcement to pursue these things.”
Constance Gakonyo, the First Lady’s chief of staff, said the two women discussed ways of working together but they did not go into detail.
Madonna’s welcome in Kenya was in contrast to the criticism she faced after visiting Malawi in 2013, when she was accused by Malawi of expecting its government to be forever chained in an “obligation of gratitude” toward her for adopting two Malawian children and contributing to the construction of classrooms there.
Reporting by Neha Wadekar; Editing by Katy Migiro and Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.