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RETROGRESSIVE NORMS

How to end gender-based violence

In Summary

• More education and awareness to discourage beliefs that promote violence against gender violence is needed.

• There is need to implement laws and policies that are against gender-based violence to the letter.

Civil societies in procession to match to Garissa County Assembly to present petition to end Gender based violence in the county. /STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Civil societies in procession to match to Garissa County Assembly to present petition to end Gender based violence in the county. /STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Gender-based violence is fuelled largely by inequitable gender norms.

Many men and women in Kenya are finding themselves in abusive relationships. Unfortunately, abuse in relationships is often kept in silence and it is mostly women who bear the brunt of this growing epidemic. They are mostly subjected to physical assault, emotional, sexual, verbal and financial abuse but most of them don't want to talk about it. They suffer in silence.

Since the start of this year, cases of domestic violence more so violence against women have been in the news on almost a daily basis and we seem not concerned about it. We have seen women killed, others have sustained permanent injuries but we take it as the new norm. Gender-Based Violence Recovery Centre says one in three Kenyan girls has experienced an episode of sexual violence before attaining age the18. Between 39 to 47 per cent of Kenyan women experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. Men and boys are also victims of sexual violence. 

One in five males has experienced a form of sexual violence before age 18.  Kenya is one of the countries with the highest rates of GBV in the world. Forty-one per cent of ever-married women and 11 per cent of ever-married men have experienced physical or sexual violence. Men are, however, the main perpetrators of violence in Kenya.

More education and awareness to discourage beliefs that promote violence against gender violence is needed. This is the first step we need to take. The media can be very effective in the fight against retrogressive practices that are biased towards one gender. By doing so the effects would be immeasurable.

There is need to implement laws and policies that are against gender-based violence to the letter. We have the best laws and policies but the problem comes during implementation. We are so poor at implementing the good policies and laws that we make. 

There is also need to train the law enforcement authorities more so the police to be accommodative and empathetic to gender-based issues. A police station is the last place an abused woman would consider running to because of their bad reputation on handling victims. It is the reason why many women don't report these cases.

Kisumu County