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QUEST FOR JUSTICE

ODPP launches toll-free line for sexual violence victims

Many victims reluctant to seek justice because of indifferent approach to SGBV by law enforcers

In Summary

• ODPP will provide protection and shelter to victims and witnesses whose lives may be vulnerable during their cases. 

• Panelists agreed that there are still gaps in investigation and prosecution of SGBV cases in the country. 

Victims of gender based violence survivors of the post election violence at the Milimani law court on March 25,2015.Philip kamakya
Victims of gender based violence survivors of the post election violence at the Milimani law court on March 25,2015.Philip kamakya

Victims of sexual and gender-based violence can now reach out to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution through a toll-free line.

The line – 0800723377 – will allow victims to seek redress if they are unsatisfied by how their cases have been handled.

“We are also working with other agencies that have used the line 1195. We are working to hasten assistance to victims of SGBV,” head of SGBV Division at ODPP Jacqueline Njagi said.  

 

Njagi added that ODPP will provide protection and shelter to victims and witnesses whose lives may be vulnerable during their cases.

“We have been working with various civil societies to provide victims with a place they can call home before their matter is settled. We have also established a victim support unit within ODPP to facilitate victims who may be unable to find their own accommodation,” she said.  

Njagi said her office is still facing challenges from certain partner agencies who prevent victims from coming forward. 

"First, we have a challenge with first responders to these victims. When you go to a first responder especially as a woman, the type of questions that you are asked can be discouraging," Njagi said. 

Jacqueline Mutere, founder and director of Grace Agenda, said many victims are afraid of reporting to the police because of the indifferent attitude by law enforcers towards SGBV. 

“Some of them go to report and they are told that their cases are not serious and that the courts are closed. So, most victims would rather focus on putting food on their tables and choose to heal in their own way,” Mutere said.

Mutere, a rape survivor from the 2007-08 post-election violence, added that the experience of many victims during the Covid-19 period mirrors hers.

 

“When I went to the police station to report, they told me that there were important and critical issues they were handling. While going home, I vowed never to report to the police station again,” she said.

Human Rights and SGBV expert Christine Alai decried the slow wheels of justice that has prevented eight SGBV victims from accessing justice since 2013.

“Thirty-one hearings later, these people are yet to get justice. Even this morning we had a hearing before Judge Korir but that did not materialise. We were supposed to make submissions in May last year but until now nothing has happened,” Alai said.

The three were part of a panel discussing the prosecution of SGBV in Kenya, a webinar that was organised by the International Commission of Jurists Kenya. 

The panellists agreed that there are still gaps in investigation and prosecution of SGBV cases in the country. 

Edited by R.Wamochie