Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa counties are leading in gender based violence (GBV) during this Covid-19 pandemic period.
Other counties that have so far recorded rising numbers of GBV cases according to FIDA-KENYA, include; Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Taita Taveta, Vihiga, Bungoma, Lamu, Siaya, Kitui and Nakuru counties.
In line with the government directive of staying at home and introduction of curfew, FIDA-KENYA closed its offices and resorted to launching a toll free number 0800720501 on April 15 as an intervention to respond to the rising gender based violence cases in the country.
Between April 15 and May 3, a total of 289 cases have so far been reported to the institution with child custody and maintenance cases topping the list at 117 while gender based violence cases following with 81 cases.
According to FIDA-KENYA, majority of the reported cases are mostly intimate partner violence.
“Nairobi and Kisumu have recorded high numbers of intimate partner violence, defilement and rape. Widow eviction and physical violence by in-laws is mostly prevalent in the Western region,” says FIDA.
In the month of March, the national helpline 1195 registered an increase in gender-based violence (GBV) cases during the dusk-to-dawn curfew with 115 cases, up from 86 in February, an increase of 33.72 per cent in just three weeks.
“The cases reported have had a very devastating effect on the survivors for example one case of GBV by in laws resulted in the lady miscarrying a 4-month pregnancy while one of the rape cases resulted in the victim suffering a perforated uterus,” says FIDA.
According to the lawyers, the many hours spent with abusive partners is exposing women and girls to more episodes of abuse.
“Covid-19 has had the implication of taking away the options of women and girls in abusive relationships escaping to relative’s upcountry for their safety,” reads the statement.
The lawyers are now calling upon the government to establish safe spaces and shelters in all counties where women and girls can get temporary shelter as they escape from their abusers.
According to Gender CS Margaret Kobia the leading forms of violence are physical assault, psychological torture and defilement. The curfew has increased the vulnerability of women and girls owing to confinement with their abusers.
“Women in quarantine face increased risks of intimate partner violence. Girls staying home from school are vulnerable to forms of abuse, such as defilement and female genital mutilation (FGM),”says the CS.