'It is high time we discussed this issue of maslah soberly. We need to ask ourselves the hard questions. Is it in any way helping us or IS it working against our very own people who are the victims? In most cases, it has been abused'
Mandera leaders have resolved to do away with a local arbitration system that is believed to encourage gender-based violence.
The maslah, is it is commonly known, is a local justice system in which rape or defilement suspects are asked to give livestock to the family of the victim as retribution.
Leaders say the traditional mediation system encourages rape and defilement because it has been abused.
Some elders have been accused of using maslah as an avenue to get cash from the offenders.
On Wednesday, leaders led by county first lady Hodhan Ibrahim said victims of gender-based violence have been denied justice through the system.
Hodhan who spoke in Mandera town said although it was established to serve the good of the society, it has been abused by those advancing selfish interests.
She said violence against women was on the rise and advised residents to seek justice in court.
The first lady said many suspects accused of gender-based violence go unpunished.
“It is high time we discussed this issue of maslah soberly. We need to ask ourselves the hard questions. Is it in any way helping us or is it working against our very own people who are the victims? In most cases, it has been abused,” Ibrahim said.
Elder Abdi Mohamed said they will never use maslah to arbitrate serious crimes, including rape and defilement.
Youth, Gender and Social Services executive Shamsha Mohamed said the department was working on sensitising residents on preservation of evidence.
Shamsha asked rape and defilement victims not to take a shower after being assaulted and instead visit a medical facility for collection of evidence.
The county government has formed a committee to deal with gender-based violence which is tasked with alerting police on the vice.
edited by p. obuya