I take this opportunity to write to you to express deep concern about your silence on the increase of sexual violence in the corridors of power.
Sexual violence is undeniably a violation of human rights. The magnitude and cost of sexual and gender based violence to Kenya’s economy is so huge. The Country uses close to twenty seven billion (Kshs27 Billion) annually on treatment and care to survivors of these atrocities, resources that can be otherwise utilized to set up a gender crimes unit to cut on these costs in the long run. This is happening against the backdrop of a culture where violence against women and girls is justified, accepted and normalized. The fact that this has been endured for many years does not make it any less of a crisis. Your government must address inequality and de-normalize violence against women and girls. Women’s rights are human rights and as such they are not negotiable, including their right to live free from coercion and violation. I ask that, as our President, you lead your government to exert strong and immediate pressure through all appropriate channels to ensure that all perpetrators are brought to book. I fear that the longer this situation continues, the more dangerous it will become for women and girls of this beloved nation.
Your silence and apathy is worrying since it can implicitly encourage this entire spectrum of appalling actions to thrive in our country. Consequently, it can serve as a pointer to silence women and children who continue to bear the greatest brunt of these ills yet having the right to share their perspective and expect an appropriate response from you.
We cannot permit a culture that allows men in positions of leadership to get away with this behavior. How long does it take to get an institutional response to the sexual violence reported in the corridors of power? It is unfortunately that women’s demand for protection of their rights is always met with dismissal, condescension and apathy. The most recent incident of alleged rape by a member of parliament is a case example.
Kenya prides itself on its recognition of and respect for human rights yet women and children continue to face violence including lack of state protection. Notwithstanding the fact that protecting women’s rights is a cornerstone of wise development policy. The socio-economic consequences of sexual and gender based violence to our country cannot be over emphasized. Mental health, high school dropouts, high rates of alcohol, substance and drugs abuse, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections leading to low productivity and malaise in the workforce are just but a few examples. It is therefore incumbent upon your government to ensure that the voices of survivors are not silenced. Your government must also offer support and show solidarity with the survivors of sexual violence and their families and to ensure justice is expediently dispensed.
There is an urgency to speak up and stand up against this menace that silently impacts so many in our communities. Everyone’s dignity must be respected in line with article 28 of the Kenyan Constitution. As the President you swore to protect the Constitution and the laws of Kenya i.e. Sexual Offences Act, FGM Prohibition Act, and Victims Protection Act among others. We look up and turn to you for guidance and you ought to note that the moment to declare an all out war on sexual violence is today and now, not tomorrow. These laws needs to be enforced and supportive including protective measures put in place to guard against these ills starting from the highest office in the land.
I am a testimony that you can heal having gone through such a traumatic experience or heinous crime and be an agent of change for a society free of sexual violence. Having said that it is important to address past and present injustices for a healthy NATION.