Opinion

Government must keep promise to protect us

Government must keep promise to protect us
  • As a country, enough awareness has been created. However, the law remains a stumbling block especially at the Judiciary stage.

  • While this is the point where justice should be seen to be served, it’s also the point at which survivors lose and end up in despair.

Twenty-eight years ago, the global campaign of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence was started to create awareness of the numerous cases of violence that were taking place around the world.

This single act has seen attention drawn to violence and specifically violence against women and girls, which comes in various forms that range from sexual, emotional, economic and physical among many others.

ACCOUNTABLE

The cases needed to be reduced and eventually wiped out because violence was not only hurting the victims, but also the perpetrators, communities and national economies.

Despite the gains realised in creating awareness, accountability still remains a big challenge especially on the part of governments.

This year, the theme for 16 days of activism against gender based violence is From Awareness to Accountability: Time Is Up! To Hold Governments Accountable For Their Promises.

Last month, the country hosted the National Conference on GBV. Again, to raise awareness of the cases of gender based violence. Under the theme, The Missing Agenda: Accountability Towards Gender Based Violence, which reciprocates the international mantra, the national conference on GBV allowed the country a time of reflection and taking stock of the progress so far recorded in efforts to eliminate GBV in Kenya.

STUMBLING BLOCK

As a country, we stand at a point where we know that sexual and gender-based violence is a crime as indicated by the cases highlighted every day. With the high number of cases, women and girls continue to bear the brunt. Statistics note that one in every two women will have experienced a form of violence before their 18th birthday.

Kenya, through the State Department of Gender has taken leadership in helping in the development of policies to address gender-based violence. The landmark law of 2006, the Sexual Offences Act and the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act of 2015, are clear real example of just how much the country has addressed sexual gender based violence.

As a country, enough awareness has been created. However, the law remains a stumbling block especially at the Judiciary stage.

DESPAIR

While this is the point where justice should be seen to be served, it’s also the point at which survivors lose and end up in despair.

What survivors of violence need this year as we mark the 16 Days of Activism Against GBV, is for the government to strive to find ways of ensuring justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. It’s only then that they will be executing their promise to the people, especially women and girls.

While sexual and gender-based violence knows no social class, race, ethnicity or gender, women and girls living in urban informal settlements or slum communities remain most vulnerable. The way they live in the single-room houses where privacy is compromised, the overcrowded alleys and the need to survival, leave women and girls at double risk of sexual and gender based violence.

Lack of police stations in the slum communities compromises access to justice and lack of safe house should be addressed.

SURVIVORS

Accountability and keeping the promise from governments means that services must be available and accessible to the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. It’s the responsibility of the government to support and protect its citizen.

The write is Conference coordinator @acshr2020/Trustee African Gender and Media Initiative.