No safe houses yet for gender violence victims

Victims are forced to go back to the environments where the abuse happened, exposing them further. [iStockphoto]

Victims of gender-based violence continue to suffer in the hands of their tormentors as safe spaces for those affected remain a mirage.

With the cases of GBV on the rise every day, Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s administration is yet to prioritise the protection of victims, even as his first term nears the end.

Past attempts to establish safe houses have hit a brick wall even as victims continue to suffer from a lengthy road to recovery with most of them continue living with the perpetrators.

Although the devolved unit has revamped the rescue centre at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, the lack of safe houses remains a challenge for GBV victims.

Only a few victims are lucky to find solace in privately-owned safe houses in the county at the intervention of activists.

Late last year, a 13-year old Class Seven pupil became the latest victim of GBV after she was reportedly defiled by a family friend.

And just like most of the victims of defilement, the learner victim went back home after receiving treatment at a local hospital where she shared a roof with the alleged perpetrator before he was arrested by police.

But she is not alone.

In Kisumu West, a 15-year-old girl who now stays with a well-wisher at a private orphanage recalls the horrific experience she went through at the hands of her father.

She was defiled a number of times by her father between June and September 2020, at Kipsamwe but had to continue living with the 71-year-old man.

The defilement left her pregnant but the baby sired through the act died at birth.

“He would come to my room and threaten me with a knife before defiling me,” she says. Her attempts to get justice by informing her stepmother fell on deaf ears.

In July last year, the girl finally got justice after a magistrate’s court at Tamu law courts found her father guilty of the offense and slapped him with a life sentence.

Several attempts to establish a safe house have not borne any fruits despite the strong push from local leaders.

During the term of former Governor Jack Ranguma, a Sh4.5 million attempt to construct a safe house for GBV victims at Tieng’re flopped after officials abandoned the project.

The safe house was to have a police desk, a laboratory, a counsellor, medical personnel and also provide accommodation for victims.

Another attempt to construct a safe house in Nyando also stalled and did not go beyond the planning phase. In the same region, the construction of a GBV centre dubbed Ong’eche also flopped.

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