HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION

State can curb GBV by checking harmful cultural practices

Covid-19 pandemic restrictions have confined women and girls at home with their abusers

In Summary

• All allegations of GBV should be probed thoroughly and effectively and those responsible punished 

• At least 2,350 women and girls across the country need shelters and safe houses for protection from violence and female genital mutilation.

Gender CAS Racheal Shebesh and Nairobi Woman Rep Esther Passaris during the National Gender Violence Conference last year on October 16.
24/7 HOTLINE: Gender CAS Racheal Shebesh and Nairobi Woman Rep Esther Passaris during the National Gender Violence Conference last year on October 16.
Image: KELVIN MUTINDA

There has been a 13 per cent increase in GBV cases in Kenya between January and March compared to the same period last year, according to analysed data from the national GBV Hotline (1195).

At least 2,350 women and girls across the country need shelters and safe houses for protection from violence and female genital mutilation.

Gender-based violence is a grave human rights violation that can cause long-term trauma to survivors. All human rights and humanitarian actors must ensure that efforts are made from the onset of an emergency to prevent and respond to acts of gender-based violence and provide adequate care, treatment and support to its survivors.

Alongside health impacts, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a loss of liberties. Restrictions in movement have affected people’s jobs and livelihoods. Despite the many hardships, freedom from violence cannot, under any circumstance, be surrendered. Yet the most vulnerable members of society including children, women, persons with disabilities and the elderly are suffering during isolation.

Violence against women and girls takes many different forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, child, early and forced marriage, sex trafficking, ‘honour’ crimes and female genital mutilation.

It is rooted in the gender inequality that women face throughout their lives. Each year more girls aged between five and 15 are introduced to the commercial sex industry. Victims of domestic violence may end up committing suicide.

The State has the primary responsibility of preventing and responding to gender-based violence. This includes taking all necessary legislative, administrative, judicial and other measures to prevent, investigate and punish acts of gender-based violence -at home, the workplace, community, while in custody, or in situations of armed conflict. 

The state should criminalise all acts of gender-based violence and ensure that national law, policies and practices adequately respect and protect human rights without discrimination of any kind, including on grounds of gender.

All allegations of GBV should be probed thoroughly and effectively and those responsible punished while adequate protection, care, treatment and support to survivors is provided.

This includes access to legal counseling, healthcare, psycho-social support, rehabilitation and compensation for the harm suffered.

Beliefs and practices that discriminate against women or sanction violence including any cultural, social, religious, economic and legal practices must also be eradicated. 

The government can also work with other sectors to ensure gender concerns are taken into account and integrated in planning and programming activities at all levels, including in areas such as shelter and physical planning, health, food and nutrition, and security.

 

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