Why we need a new global treaty to curb violence against women

Violence against women and girls continues almost unabated in Kenya. [iStockphoto]

Silent pandemic

These cases indicate that the protective measures and laws Kenya has in place are not doing enough to ensure that the country is safe for women and girls. While the release of the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Guide by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in August 2022 is a welcome step, the country requires a more cohesive approach to something that is undermining the security and well-being of Kenyan women and girls - and a platform to move this issue onto the political radar.

A growing global movement of women's rights activists is calling on world leaders to advocate for a new global treaty to curb violence against women and girls, pointing out that this silent worldwide pandemic affects not just women, but is eroding societies as a whole. Besides its devastating consequences to families, its economic impact is just as significant; intimate partner violence costs nations more than conflict and terrorism combined.

It is as obvious as it is tragic that the patchwork of protective measures that are expressed at best at regional level do not make up for the lack of a binding international framework specific to violence against women and girls, leaving us trying to plug gaping holes in the normative, geographic and enforcement landscape related to women's safety.

To address this, working groups and other experts of the proposed treaty summarised current data and best practices into five proven interventions - legal reform, training and accountability, violence prevention education, and services for survivors, and providing each with adequate funding, data and monitoring for compliance.

When applied concurrently, these interventions work in concert to drastically lower rates of violence. The model is simple; new legislation is backed by training for staff in the health, justice, security, and service sectors, supported by national campaigns and reinforced by a legal system that holds perpetrators accountable.

If President Ruto is truly intent on casting himself as a new generational leader, there is no better way for him to set himself apart than by making a pact with Kenyan women by joining the call for treaty.

Ms Ng'inja-Croft is a lawyer and a consultant with the United Nations