Violence studies from 86 countries across World Health Organisation (WHO) regions globally, show that up to 68 % of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner.
As part of the 2021 16 days of activism, Nairobi County Gender Sector Working Group, the State Department for Gender, Nairobi City County Government and Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) held a high level meeting on December 10th, United Nations International Human Rights Day, to reflect on and disseminate the Nairobi City County Sexual and Gender Based Violence Prevention, Response and Control Act, 2021 that was recently assented into law by H.E Ann Kananu,the Governor,Nairobi City County.
Eliminating Gender Based Violence
The key role of this bill is to accelerate efforts towards the elimination of all forms of gender based violence cases in Nairobi County while ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to book and justice served to the survivors.
It’s important to note that GVB affects all people of all ages and sex, young and old,male and female but across the world, women and girls have been disproportionately affected by GBV.
Flora Nkatha – “GBV Cannot be Defeated by a Single Entity”
Madam Flora Nkatha,the Nairobi County Commissioner and Chair of the Gender Sector Working Group mentioned that ”the Kenyan government through the leadership of His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, is very committed to end GBV and in that regard they have put up programs that will empower women and girls to know their rights.”
She noted that GBV is for all of us and this war cannot be won by a single entity as it requires a multi-sectoral approach that accommodates the voice and inputs from different stakeholders including the government, churches, Civil Societies, the Police, Paralegals, health workers, police, teachers, judiciary, the media and civil societies amongst other key actors.
71 Percent GBV Victims are Female
According to a report by Crime Research Centre, 2020, 71% of GBV cases reported between January and June,2020, victims were female and the main perpetrators are youthful males aged between 18-33 years who are in a family and or intimate partner relationship.
During this meeting the team shared some of the milestones that have been achieved so far by the different stakeholders as well as looking at the existing gaps that need to be addressed to ensure that Nairobi County was free from any forms of violence on women and girls.
1) Access to Health Care Services
While sharing on their progress in matters of Health Care Services for survivors of GBV in Nairobi, NMS reported that over 400 health care workers have been trained across the different facets of GBV while 26 health centers are currently offering services to survivors of GBV. Plans are underway to increase this number to a total of 46 facilities.There’s still a need for capacity building for medical officers who work in the level five hospitals so that they’re well equipped with the right skills to offer support and treatment of GBV survivors as well as be able to represent the survivors in the court and give evidence obtained from the medical reports. NMS also reported that they have established a total of 21 dedicated Tumaini Clinics within the county where GBV survivors can feel comfortable to access and get free medical support.
2) Safe Houses/Shelter
“The government has set aside 50 million Kenya Shillings for construction of a safe house in Nairobi.” Roselyne Kabana,head of GBV, NMS said. The bill that was assented by Hon. Ann Kananu proposes that the county government should at least ensure that of the 17 sub-counties in Nairobi, each should have a fully functional safe house with well trained personnel dedicated to offering support to survivors of GBV. Roselyne stated that in the meantime,as the country awaits for this long awaited asset,the government is currently working with Civil Society Organizations in the county who own safe houses,to offer temporary accomodation to GBV survivors.
A total of 20 section National Police Service commanders have been trained on GBV and protection of victims/survivors in Nairobi county. NMS is also recruiting a total of 700 officers to enforce and take care of women and girls who may be inconvenienced by rogue citizens.
Unfortunately most of the police stations lack the right resources for preservation of forensic evidence as they do not have lockable cabinets,this is a huge disconnect as the evidence can easily be tampered with/stolen.
Police stations in Nairobi do not have enough gender desks and in most occasions when the survivors go to report a case,there’s usually no privacy as they get interrogated and this ought to be a priority. In addition, there are only about 6 child protection units in the county and this is not enough to cater for the needs of children who get violated on a daily basis.
Kenya has emergency toll free lines 1508 and 1195 where people can call and report cases of abuse. While the government has made strides in the policies protecting its citizens, the paper rights in the various treaties, laws and policies are yet to be translated into lived realities for the women and girls of Kenya, who continue to face untold human rights violations and gender injustice.This country has very good laws but implementation has always been a big problem.
It’s about time that the Ministry of Interior and coordination of national government ensured that these laws are are simplified to accommodate the local mwananchi so that the whole community is able to understand these policies in their own languages.
In order to expedite the justice process,it is also important that the government comes up with GBV courts where survivors will get assistance without having to wait forever for their cases to be heard and justice to prevail.
4) Resources Allocation/Funding
NMS has done a great job to provide security to Nairobi residents and a total of 45,000 streetlights have been put across the county to offer security to citizens.It’s important to note that lately young women and girls can freely walk in the streets of Nairobi without fearing for their lives.
The Missing Link
Violence messes up with women and girls and that’s why some of them end up with compromised behaviours,they lose value and their self esteem becomes very low and it’s easy for them to become promiscuous or harbour bitter memories that makes them very reserved.
Advocacy seems to be the missing link and the stakeholders in the GBV menace are not hitting the high levels. The existing legal framework should be airtact and the community/society should break the social norms on GBV and stop socialising marriage and learn to advise women to always value their own lives first and walk away from toxic marriages. Also, the community isn’t involved at the planning stage and it’s about time that the county committee,the gatekeepers and male champions and people at the lowest level got involved in the county integrated development plans.