By Waiswa Wafula
Due to the rampant rise in the cases of Gender based violence in the last couple of months, the cabinet secretary for Public Service and Gender, Prof. Margaret Kobia today expressed the need for the government to take action
“GBV has a very negative impact on economic growth so the cost of not confronting it would be more disastrous if we waited to do something about it in future,” said Prof. Kobia
The CS noted a correlation between the COVID-19 crisis in one year and the number of GBV cases with only 20% of the cases being reported. According to the press statement released by the ministry, Between January and December 2020, a total of 5009 cases were recorded through the National GBV toll-free helpline 1195, showed an increase of 1,411 (36%) reported from previous year. Data indicates that Nairobi, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nakuru and Kiambu Counties reported the highest cases of GBV.
Prof. Kobia stated the role of the government is to create a conducive environment for inclusion of the whole of society, government and private sector.
“If we do not confront this matter in its every form, I think as a country we would end up with a society that is troubled.” She added.
The main factors put out by the ministry contributing to GBV include: alcohol, drug and substance abuse; poverty; family/domestic disputes, retrogressive cultural beliefs and practices; poor parenting/upbringing and moral decadence; identity crisis among the youthful population; and inadequate support system. The most common forms of GBV identified in the study were, physical assault, rape/attempted rape, murder, sexual offences, defilement, grievous harm, physical abuse, child marriages, psychological torture and child neglect.
CS shared some of the measures the government which include an inter-agency strategy that includes, stakeholders to deal with the matter; six (6) Ministries (Public service and Gender, Interior, Education, ICT, Health and Labour), County Governments, development partners, and other non-state actors.
Further, the Government in recognition of the contribution of COVID-19 pandemic to the GBV crisis made investment through social safety nets cash transfers. As a result, loans to the tune of KShs WEF 300M, UWEZO 60M and Youth Fund 80M are disbursed every month to provide support self help groups.
Toll-free hotlines which include: the National GBV Helpline 1195, National Police Helpline – 0800730999 under Police care, and Child Helpline-116 to provide services such as anonymous reporting, assistance to survivors, tele- counselling and referrals for medical and legal services to any victim of GBV.
Prevention and response structures through County GBV Working Groups established by the National and County Governments which consists of: law enforcement agents, social workers, medical personnel, and non-state actors to facilitate the prevention and response to GBV.
With support from the National Government Affirmative Action Fund the Rescue Centers for GBV were established to support survivors in West Pokot, Bungoma, Vihiga, Meru and Migori counties. Additionally, there are 36 shelters operated by Civil Society Organizations in 13 Counties of Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Kwale, Samburu, Kajiado, Murang’a, Laikipia, Kiambu, Nyeri, Meru, Machakos, and Makueni.
Continued sensitization and awareness prioritized on targeting men and boys as allies, advocates, role models and change agents, championing advocacy efforts against all forms of GBV to mobilize collective action in the communities.
The CS concluded by sharing the following important key messages to all Kenyans on the fight against GBV:
1. Komesha Dhuluma/Stop Gender Based Violence, call 1195.
2. Any form of violence is wrong. Do not be afraid to ask for help, Break the SILENCE.
3. If you feel unsafe in or around your home, if you are harmed or feel threatened, intimidated or harassed, break the SILENCE
4. The lockdown and curfew are no excuse for Gender Based Violence. Break the SILENCE.
5. During times of crisis, negative coping mechanisms can result to GBV. If you feel unsafe, please Break the SILENCE.
6. Do you know anyone going through domestic violence and needs help? Don’t sit back, break the SILENCE.
“I wish to appeal to all members of the public to join hands to end this vice before it becomes a normal in violating human rights. Stand against GBV by among other things: reporting incidences, supporting victims, speaking out against harmful and retrogressive cultural beliefs and practices.” She added.
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