Usikimye, an online care center for victims of gender-based violence, launched its call center and office in Nairobi’s Kayole estate on March 5, 2021.
It has a 24-hour hotline – 254 718 158 400 – and a website www.usikimye.org where victims can reach out for assistance every day.
The new call center is the first in the country that is not owned and run by the government.
Usikimye (Kiswahili for don’t be silent) was launched in 2019 and has been running campaigns against GBV and offering rescue services online, with its staff receiving approximately 150 distress calls per day.
The center says they have come to the aid of over 4,385 women and girls; 361 children, and 14 infants from different regions in the country, and also coordinated the rescue of 286 women and girls from sexual violence.
The organization also launched Inua Jamii, a program aimed at boosting women’s productivity and earnings to accelerate their economic recovery.
Inua Jamii will help the families save, lend and start businesses. The exercise will kick off with 1,000 families and the beneficiaries will get entrepreneurship training and expert guidance on financial management and savings.
The center also runs a feeding program for 600 girls every Friday in Soweto and offers sanitary pads to 2,400 girls and 600 young mothers’ every month.
Over 36,000 girls and young women have benefited from the dignity kits distributed by the organization in a bid to deal with period poverty.
Usikimye was founded by Njeri Wa Migwi, a domestic violence survivor, in 2019 as a rescue and care centre for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
Sharing her story as a GBV activist, Wa Migwi says: “To start my rescue journey, I hosted three women survivors in my home. That is where I started seeing the need to have a safe haven for women, a place where they could stay longer.”
The coronavirus pandemic has worsened the situation for most women and reports show a rise in the number of GBV cases.
To help curb the underreporting of the cases, the National Police Service introduced new measures to help the curb rise of gender-based violence in the country including the establishment of Policare, a unit where all sexual and GBV cases are handled.
The new unit aims at reducing the time taken to prosecute and close cases of sexual abuse and GBV, as well as protecting SGBV victims as they come out to report their cases.
Through Policare (police care), the police are handling these cases in a collaborative approach by involving relevant stakeholders including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), the Ministry of Health, the Judiciary, and psychosocial support providers.