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Digital platforms now safe haven for victims of sexual violence

By Saada Hassan | July 24th 2020

The number of violent incidences has been rising in the country since the beginning of Covid -19 pandemic.

According to government data, there has been a 7 per cent increase in the number of all forms of violent cases compared to last year.

As a result, in a bid to tackle the rapidly rising cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), teenage pregnancies and maternal mortality, digital spaces are now the safe haven for victims of violence.

Speaking during a virtual stakeholders’ forum organized by New Faces New Voices Kenya, Millicent Muigai, the Acting Chief Executive of Mums Village Kenya said that a number of Kenyans have turned to digital platforms especially for women going through emotional, psychological or physical abuse especially, during the Covid- 19 season.

“Our abuse-support groups on the WhatsApp platform provides a question and answer forum that has so far impacted over 300,000 women who share their heart-wrenching stories. Initially, we successfully organized physical meetups with the GBV victims and assisted them to get legal and counseling support. Due to the current pandemic, we have since migrated to an online platform, paused the physical meetups, and adjusted our e-commerce systems to be at par with hygiene measures,” said Millicent.

During Covid-19 daily briefs, Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi warned that the Covid-19 measures in place do not justify any violence being meted out especially on women and children, noting that the two groups are the worst affected in this period.

“Worse, close to 5,000 rape survivors have received medical treatment in health facilities during this period of the pandemic. Children below 18 years bear the greatest burden as they comprise 70 per cent of these survivors with 5 per cent of these survivors being male,” she added.

According to Imara TV Co-Founder Stephen Maina, there is need to amplify sex education, especially in the grassroots through technology, to curb the prevalence of risky sexual social behaviors among young people such as ‘sex for fish’, ‘sex for money’ and other transactional sex practices going on due to financial constraints.

Recent data from the Ministry of Labour revealed that eight out of ten first incidences of sexual violence against children occurred in the afternoon or evening.

"Children who witness or experience violence might learn that violence is appropriate for conflict resolution or is acceptable in intimate interpersonal settings," said Labour and Social Protection CS Simon Chelugui.

"Believing violence is necessary or tolerated makes our children vulnerable to both victimization and perpetration of violence. In this way, a cycle of violence perpetuates itself through families, schools, and communities," he added.

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