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Silence around SGBV 'preventing survivors from seeking help'

 CREAW’s Executive Director Wangechi Wachira, Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya Christopher Thornley and Tom Michira during the unveiling of the SGBV Outreach Centre. [Rose Gacheri, Standard]

A centre to address gender violence, particularly in informal settlements, has been opened.

In his remarks during the launch of the Mukuru SGBV Outreach Centre, Canadian High Commissioner Christopher Thornley noted that survivors in informal settlements face such challenges as poverty, lack of awareness, limited access to support services, and stigma.

“The pervasive silence surrounding these issues often prevents survivors from seeking help or reporting the crimes committed against them,” said the Commissioner. 

The outreach unit is run by the Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (Creaw), with support from the Nairobi County, Hewlett Foundation, and Canadian Commission.

According to data, one in three women in Kenya has experienced some form of sexual or gender-based violence in her lifetime. 

“These statistics underscore the urgent need for attention and action to address the pervasive issue that affects the lives of mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends, creating untold stories of pain and resilience within society,” said Tom Michira, Chief Officer of Public Health, representing Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja. 

He said that it was against this informed backdrop that Creaw and the Nairobi County Government made efforts to bring services closer to the community through the centre.

Muchira said the strategic placement of the SGBV centre within the Mukuru Health Centre facility ensures survivors have access to integrated health services, pro bono legal assistance, free psycho-social support, and economic empowerment programmes. 

“The SGBV Centre represents a departure from the norm by aiming to eliminate the stigmatisation the survivors often face when navigating different offices and recounting their trauma,” said Creaw Executive Director Wangechi Wachira.

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