Ending Gender Based Violence Against Women and Girl in Garissa County
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Violence against women and girls is perhaps the most widespread and socially tolerated of human rights violations, cutting across borders, race, class, ethnicity and religion. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a particularly disturbing phenomenon which exists in all regions of the world. Kenya is not an exception to this form of brutality which negatively affects women and girls in particular. The term refers to any harmful act that is perpetrated against one person’s will and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females.
GBV in Kenya, as elsewhere in the world, is a complex issue that has as its root the structural inequalities between men and women that result in the persistence of power differentials between the sexes. Women’s subordinate status to men in many societies, coupled with a general acceptance of interpersonal violence as a means of resolving conflict, renders women and girls disproportionately vulnerable to violence from all levels of society.
The impact of GBV is devastating. The individual women and girls who are victims of such violence often experience life-long emotional distress, mental health problems and poor reproductive health, as well as being at higher risk of acquiring HIV and intensive long-term users of health services. In addition, the cost to women, their children, families and communities is a significant obstacle to reducing poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring access to quality education. This, in conjunction with the mental and physical health implications of gender-based violence, impacts on a state or region’s ability to develop and construct a stable, productive society.
The 2008-09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) reveals that about 39 per cent of women have experienced some form of GBV since they were 15 years old. This data further reveals that experience of GBV in all forms – emotional, physical. The survey urges that 39 percent of women have experienced physical violence and 21 percent have experienced sexual violence. Marital violence contributes to the majority of GBV. Violence that may begin with threats may end in forced ‘suicide’, death from injuries or homicide. Moreover, GBV has been the next biggest contributor to physical violence in Kenya as more than two thirds of women and girls have reported abuse, report their abusers to be husbands or other relatives, teachers, school workers or employers.
Kenya has enacted various laws related to violence against women and girls. They include the Sexual Offences Act (2007), the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2011), Education Gender Policy (2007) and the National Policy towards Prevention and Response to GBV (2014). Thus does not reflect on the increasing cases of GBV at the community level. This is due to lack of implementation and monitoring of GBV. Effective protection can be established only by preventing GBV, identifying risks and responding to victims, using a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach.
In Garissa County many national, and international organizations have implemented projects to reduce GBV in the county. Most of GBV cases reported are rape, defilement, wife battering, Early Childhood Marriages, FGM, trafficking and sexual exploitation, child labour. The present protection environment in Garissa County is fraught with challenges and filled with opportunities, which should be carefully considered when devising responses.The key factors hindering the effective implementation of preventing, identifying and protecting GBV victims at the county level is due to lack of county legislations and engendering of county budget to combat GBV in the county. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Services is a devolved function at county thus makes the county come up with strategies and mechanisms to eradicate GBV in Garissa County. The County assembly has a role to play in ensuring that policies are formulated and enacted to overcome cases of GBV at community levels and institutions. The policies should be guided with implementation framework that has an annual monetary budgeted to address programs to protect women and girls in Garissa County.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is used as an organizing strategy by organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. The theme of the 2017 Campaign is “Together We Can End GBV in Education!” Our goal for 2017 is to continue to build awareness of and advocate for an end to all forms of gender-based violence in education once and for all in Garissa County. As a women’s social movement organizations focusing on the advancement of women and girls, Pastoralist Girls Initiative (PGI), Silver Lining Kenya (SLK), INUA Girls Group sees eradication of GBV as a key issue in its work. The organizations are dedicated to alleviating the challenges encountered by the pastoralist women and girls by addressing their needs.
Therefore, this petition calls to the Speaker, County Assembly of Garissa, CEC Gender, Culture and Social Services, Garissa County, CEC Finance, CEC Education, Garissa County and CEC Health, Garissa County to come up with policies and programs that should address cases of GBV. Our recommendations are
- Garissa County Assembly to formulate and enact policies that specific to the needs and wellbeing of the women and girls in the county to combat GBV.
- Garissa County Assembly should ensure that there are budget allocations for GBV programs .
- Garissa County Government need to provide sufficient human and financial resources for effective implementation of the relevant Gender Based Violence laws and policies enacted by the County Assembly.
- Develop Gender Based Violence Recovery Centers within hospitals and dispensary in Garissa County to support women and girls affect by GBV to acquire FREE medical care and safe house as a crisis intervention mechanism to provided phycological and emotional support.
- County Governments should facilitate the creation of child centred and gender responsive school environments that provides safe spaces in particular for girls who are a vulnerable group.
- The County Government should strengthen the Child Protection Systems in schools. Students and teachers should be constantly educated and made aware about child rights in violence cases. This should also extend to the community level.
- More investment in research, monitoring and evaluation of implementation of Gender Based Violence laws and policies should financed and planned by the County Government annually.
- There is a need for Garissa County to enhance support services for victims of violence including crisis intervention, information and referral, support Groups, mapping of hot spots, free Counselling and set up a free HOTLINE NUMBER.
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