County leaders must work together to eradicate gender-based violence

39 per cent of women have experienced some form of SGBV since they were 15 years old. [iStockphoto]

Violence against women is perhaps the most widespread and socially tolerated of human rights violations, cutting across borders, race, class, ethnicity and religion.

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a particularly disturbing phenomenon which exists in all regions globally particularly during crisis such as the pandemic. Kisumu is not an exception to this form of brutality which negatively affects women and girls in particular.

SGBV refers to any harmful act that is perpetrated against one person's will and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females, particularly female is the most vulnerable.

Demographic and health survey (KDHS) reveal that about 39 per cent of women have experienced some form of SGBV since they were 15 years old. Sexual violence is the most highly reported SGBV. This is not where we want to be as county

Government however recognises that sustainable development cannot be achieved in an environment where gender-based violence is a daily occurrence. Thus, a coordinated multispectral approach which involves stakeholders is paramount for the management of gender-based violence including provision of timely and efficient services to victims/survivors

KMET and other private partners have been working in partnership with the county government to see a reduction in vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence in Kisumu, through policies, including the county SGBV policy and gender mainstreaming policy prevention and response to and SGBV, empowerment through sensitisation, distribution of sanitary towels, funding, training, enforcing a gender responsive budgeting through the assembly establishment and operationalization of the rescue centers for survivors, working in partnership with stakeholders, public awareness campaigns highlighting the risk and detailed information

This brings in the Multisector approach in ending SGBV.

SGBV is heightened in periods of political transition and during crisis, for example pandemic. We have survivors whose rights were violated during the past elections in the slums of Kisumu, these women have emerged to be the strongest people I know of.

To address SGBV, the county government and the legislative arm need to work together to implement policies that demonstrate commitment to providing mechanisms for prevention and appropriate responses to the increase in GBV.

This is why we call on the government to execute the Generation Equality forums commitments made by former president Uhuru Kenyatta, we are committed to working with every sector to realise the commitments. In the spirit of Gender Responsive budgeting, the county government needs to prioritise having a standalone gender department. [Monica Oguttu]

-Dr Oguttu is the executive director Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET)

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