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Violence against women is a global problem, it requires global action

Violence doesn’t discriminate, it affects women of all ages, abilities, classes and backgrounds. What’s alarming is that 1 in 3 women across the world will experience violence in their lifetime. That’s more than 1 billion women and girls facing physical or sexual abuse.

Kenya, like many other countries around the world, has been experiencing an increase in reported cases of physical and sexual violence, including domestic violence, against women and girls. Even before COVID-19, high levels of violence against women and girls, impunity, and a lack of accountability and services for survivors were ongoing problems in Kenya.

In June 2021, the Government of Kenya made a valiant decision to end Gender-Based Violence (GBV) including sexual violence by 2026. When making the announcement, Kenya promised to intensify its campaign to end these violations by undertaking a series of 12 bold commitments that would remove the systemic barriers that allow GBV to thrive. Little has been achieved so far and we only have about three years to go. Justice will remain elusive for many women and girls in our country if these commitments are not realised.

Sustainable Development Goal 16’s first target is “the elimination of all types of violence”. GBV is now recognised as undermining development.

The physical, economic and social costs of GBV include the negative impact on health and well-being for victims of GBV, costs for health and legal services, loss of earnings, absenteeism or inability to work for those affected and the inter-generational impact of violence on families. These personal, familial, and communal impacts of GBV prevent SDG 16 from being realised. 

Just last year alone, The Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW-Kenya) said that they received over 3,762 cases of Gender-Based Violence. Out of those cases, 2,985 cases of GBV were by women while 777 cases were by men. The various types of GBV included physical assault, emotional abuse, defilement and rape. We have a long way to go. 

Violence against women continues to occur at an alarming scale in every country in the world, not just in Kenya. Too often it has been accepted as normal behavior and the global culture of discrimination against women allows violence to occur with impunity. 

Speaking out against women’s rights abuses is something that human rights organizations should do every day. From lobbying governments to improve laws and services to working with communities to change discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, organisations and individuals are working all over the world to respond to and prevent violence against women.

The author is a sexual and reproductive health and rights expert

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