Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a serious global health, human rights, and development issue. It is a symptom of underlying gender inequalities and power imbalances beyond geography, race, culture, class, and religion, touching virtually every community in every corner of the globe. Therefore, preventing GBV is transformational. It improves the health of women and children, economic productivity and educational attainment and reduces risks of mental illness and substance abuse, among other benefits. It can also help accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
GBV is often condoned by customs and reinforced by institutions that are thriving on impunity. The official definition of GBV set out in the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women “is an act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”
These acts include the spousal battery, sexual abuse, including female children, dowry-related violence, rape, female genital mutilation (FGM) cutting, and other traditional practices harmful to women, sexual violence related to exploitation, harassment and intimidation.
Women and girls, everywhere, must have equal rights and opportunities, and be able to live free of violence and discrimination. Women’s equality and empowerment are one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but also integral to all dimensions of inclusive and sustainable development.
GBV directly violates 23 rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens in the Bill of Rights in Chapter Four of Kenya’s Constitution.
According to the Kenyan government data, 45% of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence, and 14% have experienced sexual violence. Many cases are not reported to authorities, and few women get justice or receive medical care.
According to the 2018 National Crime Research Center data, Nakuru County had a GBV prevalence of 16%, while Nyeri had an 8.6% prevalence. Sexual violence is the leading form of GBV in the country, and different reports indicate increasing incidence.
In 2019, the National Police Service (NPS) adopted the SOPs for the prevention and response to GBV. The purpose of these SOPs was to provide standard guidelines for effective prevention and response to GBV by the NPS.
The SOPs further provided a comprehensive, coherent and sustained strategy for the prevention and response to GBV by police and focused on improved survivor experience, effective investigations, community sensitization, collaborations and policing, training of officers in the handling of GBV and strengthened partnership between multi-sectoral players.
IMLU, under the support of the DIAKONIA Grant, procured two containers for Kongoni and Mukurweini Police Stations to help in managing cases of GBV. The two stations are among 13 police stations that IMLU has played a critical role in its Community Policing Committees’ operationalization under the grant.
The two stand-alone GBV units were customized as per the basic standard requirements with a specific purpose of responding, managing and preventing GBV within the two locations.
The intention of setting up the two units was to guarantee victims access to services within the same premises while simultaneously upholding their confidentiality which was lacking.
The installation of the GBV Units’ at Kongoni and Mukurweini Police Stations will ensure that GBV survivors are managed with dignity as they pursue justice. The operationalization of the units is expected to instil confidence in the community so that all cases of GBV are reported and not solved at the community level. For effective service delivery, 40 officers from the two stations were trained on the SOPs for the prevention and response to GBV to increase their knowledge on managing GBV.
The Kongoni Police GBV Unit was officially launched on 22nd June 2021 while the Mukurweini Unit was launched on 25th June 2021.
The launch at both locations brought together community members, the NPS, CPC members, Community Own Resource Persons and other stakeholders including development partners.