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National Plan To End Gender-Based Violence.

Photo Courtesy; Gender and Public Service Cabinet Secretary, Aisha Jumwa

The government has announced the first national plan to end gender-based violence (GBV), following up on years of concerted efforts to address the issue and provide safety to those affected.

Speaking during the Protection Against Domestic Violence Rules launch, Gender and Public Service Cabinet Secretary, Aisha Jumwa, declared that the government will have zero tolerance for GBV and that the rules will establish clear guidelines for obtaining protection orders, ensuring that survivors have access to swift and effective legal remedies.

“The government has zero tolerance on GBV so today I want to declare total war on GBV and as a Cabinet Secretary, I want to assure you I will be at the forefront because am a survivor/victim of this, but I have healed and I want the society to be free from GBV,” she said.

“The rules emphasize the importance of prevention and early intervention, underlining the need and responsibility by legal duty bearers to handle survivors with compassion while ensuring the perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.”

The government plans to establish a GBV survivor’s fund. The fund will be through a co-financing model in partnership with the private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders for the economic empowerment of GBV survivors.

It was revealed that survivors have had trouble getting a P3 form because the form costs a significant amount of money and asking for it will make the survivor be re-victimized.

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The UN defines gender-based violence as any act that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life perpetrated against a person based on gender.

A significant characteristic of GBV is that the victim has no choice to refuse or pursue other options without severe social, physical, or psychological consequences owing to the fact that it is rooted in a society‘s social structure.

GBV can manifest in a variety of ways. Some of these include physical violence, such as assault or slavery; emotional or psychological violence, such as verbal abuse or confinement; sexual abuse, including rape; harmful practices, like child marriage and female genital mutilation; socio-economic violence, which includes denial of resources; and sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse.

GBV occurs in every corner of the world. Its manifestations and prevalence rates vary, and statistics are scarce. Globally, nearly 50 percent of all sexual assaults are against girls 15 years or younger.

In Kenya, just as in most African countries, GBV disproportionately affects more women than men. Statistics from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) indicate that over 40 percent of women have experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Moreover, the prevalence of child marriage and FGM is about 23 percent and 21 percent respectively in the country.

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RESPONSE TO GBV.

Gender-based violence is a criminal offense and a moral indignation as provided in the Kenyan Penal Code, the Sexual Offences Act 2006, and the Constitution 2010.

In June 2021, the Government of Kenya made a valiant decision to end Gender-Based Violence (GBV) including sexual violence by 2026. When making the announcement, Kenya promised to intensify its campaign to end these violations by undertaking a series of 12 bold commitments that would remove the systemic barriers that allow GBV to thrive.

The Child Justice and Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) Strategies, Convicted Sexual Offenders Electronic Register and established specialized SGBV Courts at Kibera and Makadara Law Courts were officially launched by Hon. Justice Martha Koome, President of the Supreme Court in June.

The initiatives are in line with the strategic focus of the Judiciary to transform the justice system into a people-centered one that upholds the dignity and rights of all Kenyans, especially victims of SGBV, child abuse, and exploitation

The SGBV strategy acts as a beacon of hope for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. UNODC commits to prioritizing the needs of survivors and victims, ensuring that their well-being is at the forefront of judicial responses. 

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EFFECTS OF GBV IN THE SOCIETY.

 The consequences of gender-based violence are devastating and can have life-long repercussions for survivors. It can even lead to death.

The consequences of GBV not only affect women but extend to society as a whole. It threatens family structures; children suffer emotional damage when they watch their mothers and sisters being battered; two-parent homes may break up, leaving the new female heads of household to struggle against increased poverty and negative social repercussions.

Psychological scars often impede the establishment of healthy and rewarding relationships in the future. Victims of gender violence may vent their frustrations on their children and others, thereby transmitting and intensifying the negative experiences of those around them. Children, on the other hand, may come to accept violence as an alternative means of conflict resolution and communication. It is in these ways that violence is reproduced and perpetuated.

Gender-based violence has effects such as homicide and suicide, injury and shock, disability and sleeping disorders, reproduction problems, emotional and psychological problems, and social and economic problems such as increased gender inequalities. 

Health problems translate into social and economic burdens for society members and the Government. It therefore impedes the achievement of developmental goals, for instance, in the context of the Millennium Development Goals and Kenya‘s Vision 2030.

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CAUSES OF GBV.

There is no single factor that can explain gender-based violence in our societies, but rather a myriad of factors contribute to it, and the interplay of these factors lies at the root of the problem.

It is very important for the victim to realize that the main cause of the violence is not them but the perpetrators.

Gender Inequality. Women with low levels of education are also often of low socioeconomic status and must depend financially on a male partner, often leading to abuse. In some relationships, men prevent their wives from being employed, keeping them trapped within both their physical home and within the man’s control. These women remain silent in the face of abuse. Situations like; disobedience and questioning what a man does often lead to violence in a family.

Lack of Education in Kenya. Many illiterate women think that a man is justified to hit his wife if she argues with him. A survey was done with both men and women, and the general trend for both showed that as the years in education of the respondent increased, fewer people felt domestic violence was justified. Another trend was shown when the respondent’s education was plotted against the percentage of people who agreed that “a man is justified in hitting his wife if she goes out without telling him. As the level of education increased, the mean percentage who felt the above claim was justified, decreased.

Legal factors. Being a victim of gender-based violence is perceived in many societies as shameful and weak, with many women still being considered guilty of attracting violence against themselves through their behavior. This partly accounts for enduring low levels of reporting and investigation.

Poverty.  Poverty creates patterns that become self-perpetuating, making it extremely difficult for the victims to extricate themselves. When unemployment and poverty affect men, this can also cause them to assert their masculinity through violent means.

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CONCLUSION.

For a long time, men have assumed superiority over women in all aspects of life. This superiority has known no limits and women have been at the behest of all manner of violence executed by men.

The prevalence of SGBV and GBV against women is alarming, especially in a continent that grapples with major issues of poverty and socio-political downfall. Although the trend recently has slightly shifted towards battering men, statistics still show that women are at the worst receiving end of this faux pas.

Kenya has moved at a sluggish pace in its attempts to realize equal opportunities for both men and women. This was more because of the constitutional position that allowed for discrimination against women. The Constitution of Kenya 2010 has sought to level the playing field for both men and women with propositions for legislation that is gender sensitive.

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