Written by Sarah Nyakio
On April 22, 2021, Gender CS Margaret Kobia, during a conference, indicated that cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Kenya increased by 92 percent between January and June 2020. Nairobi, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Kiambu counties reported the highest cases.
“The most common forms of GBV identified in the study were physical assault, rape/attempted rape, murder, sexual offenses, defilement, grievous harm, physical abuse, child marriages, psychological torture, and child neglect,” she said.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Public Service and Gender show that 5,009 cases were recorded between January and December 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most common forms of Gender-Based Violence identified were physical assault, rape and attempted rape, murder, defilement, grievous harm, child neglect, and psychological torture. SGBV results from many socio-economic variables such as social position, employment, status, financial circumstances and self-concept, personal and community values as contributing factors to the violence.
In Nakuru County, a 15-year-old girl was defiled and killed in Mau Narok, Nakuru County. Her body is dumped in a river. She had left home to collect firewood from a nearby forest. A rope she had to help carry the bundle of firewood was tied around her neck while her head was covered with her clothes.
Through the National Government Affirmative Action, 36 GBV shelters operated by Civil Society Organizations have been established in 13 counties of Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Kwale, Samburu, Kajiado, Murang’a, Laikipia, Kiambu, Nyeri, Meru, Machakos, and Makueni.
The impact of SGBV is devastating. The individual women who are victims of such violence often experience life-long emotional distress and mental health problems.
In addition, the cost to women, their children, families, and communities is a significant obstacle to reducing poverty, achieving gender equality, and ensuring a peaceful transition for post-conflict societies.
However, states must promote and protect all citizens’ human rights and fundamental freedoms. The citizens must exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish acts of violence against women and children. The state also must protect victims of any form of violence, a responsibility for which it ought to be held to account.
Kenya ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1984 and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on Women’s Rights in Africa on October 13, 2010 (Maputo Protocol).
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) establishes international standards for guaranteeing equality between women and men within the family and between the family and the state. As of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the essence of this convention is respect for human dignity and respect for the human capacity to make responsible choices. At the same time, the Maputo Protocol guarantees comprehensive rights to women, including the right to take part in the political process, social and political equality with men, improved autonomy in their reproductive health decisions, and an end to gender-based violence.