Gender violence, particular gender-based violence against women, is on the rise in Kenya, according to the annual report released by Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC) last week.
The UN General Assembly, in adopting the 1993 declaration on the elimination of violence against women, defined gender-based violence as:
‘Any art of violence that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women; including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life (Population Reference Bureau, 2001 pg. 3)’.
90 PERCENT GENDER VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Sexual abuse the GVRC report says is the most commonly reported form of abuse suffered by victims. Between 2011 and 2012, of all the cases reported 2,532 were sexual and 422 physical violence, and of these 90 per cent of all reported cases of gender violence are reported by women and girls, 10 per cent by men or boys. “Women and girls bore the greatest burden of pain and suffering”, said Grace Wangechi GVRC Executive Director regarding the report’s findings.
ONE-IN-FIVE KENYAN WOMEN FACE SEXUAL VIOLENCE
According to statistics from the Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC);
- 45% of women between ages 15 – 49 in Kenya have experienced either physical or sexual violence with women and girls accounting for 90% of the gender based violence (GBV) cases reported;
- One in five Kenyan women (21%) has experienced sexual violence;
- Strangers account for only 6% of GBV in Kenya. 64% of survivor of violence reported that the offenders behind their ordeal were known to them;
- Most violence towards women is committed by an intimate partner;
- 90% off reported perpetrators are men.
Cases of violence among men and boys are said to be relatively low although this may be because most of them go unreported mainly out of fear of ridicule and stigmatization.
CAUSE OF GENDER VIOLENCE IN KENYA
Culture has been cited as the leading cause of violence against women. Some men it seems still subscribe to outdated traditions e.g. that battering a woman is seen as a way of discipline and is acceptable.
Financial insecurity has also been said to be a factor. The role of a man has been established as that of a leader and a provider and in some cases where a man fails to establish his authority in these areas, he ends up resorting to physical abuse.
Alcohol and drugs have also led many men, unfortunately, into violence against women.
COMBATTING GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
Several institutions including USAID have been on the forefront of fighting gender violence in Kenya and have come up with gender-based violence programs which are committed to preventing this type of violence by working toward increasing access to justice and integrated support services. They also work at increasing overall public awareness about gender based violence.
The Kenyan government has also paid attention to gender violence and the Sexual Offences Act 2006 was a great step in addressing sexual violence against women in Kenya.
The Act of Parliament talks about sexual offences, their definition, prevention, and the protection of persons unlawful sexual acts.
Gender-based violence, particularly against women, remains a major problem in Kenya and there is still so much to be done if this evil is to be curtailed.