Is technology to blame for rising sexual violations?

OPINION |

Kisii Governor James Ongwae, Youth and Gender Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh and Kisii Woman Representative Janet Ongera talk with some of the Gender-Based Violence victims at the newly built Kisii Gender-Based Violence Rescue Center.[Sammy Omingo,Standard]

Gender-based violence leaves a sour taste in the mouth of victims and their relatives. Unless properly counseled, gender based violence may leave permanent emotional scars in victims and their kin. Sometimes it affects the way victims relate with the opposite sex and react to ordinary circumstances. 

Health professionals including doctors, nurses and counselors as well as police officers and magistrates, know how traumatising the offences are. 

Global statistics show a rise in sexual violence cases, with Kenya, like other African countries, occupying a front seat, despite existence of the Sexual Offences Act, 2006.

While this rise point to a failed criminal justice system, it is important for all of us to probe the real causes. In Kenya, several stakeholders have blamed lack of police resources for rise in sexual offences. While this may be a contributing factor, it would be premature to blame the whole crisis on police resources.

The issue may also require the criminal justice system to re-look how it treats victims. We should also address the moral fabric that holds society together. For instance, it would be interesting to find out if the rise in rape allegations, has proportionately led to increase in number of cases progressing from charging to prosecution. In some countries, statistics indicate that these numbers have significantly dropped.

Sexual violence has long and short-term effects on the victim’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. Whether it happens in the context of an ongoing conflict, within intimate relationship, or within the family, sexual violence denies victims dignity.

There is need for enhanced public awareness to enable citizens report cases. The Sexual Offences Act aptly specified sexual offences to include among others, forced abortions, gang rape, rape used as a form of conflict, cyberbullying, and revenge pornography.

The Act also provides for minimum mandatory sentences for specific sexual offences. Still, even as we think about measures to prevent occurrence of rape, we need to ask if modern technology is contributing to changes in behaviour of sex offenders, and the behaviour shown by the general public when it comes to sex.

The stunning behaviour by victims to meet strangers after a brief online interaction in risky, isolated places, or even in the offender’s home should be of concern to all Kenyans.

The writer is CEO Kenya Medical Training College

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