27 June 2014

Kenya: Sexual Offences On the Rise in Kenya

Nairobi — Statistics released on Friday show that sexual offences in the country have gone up by 22 percent since the last year, with one in every five women assaulted.

The report attributes this to the fact that cases in which prosecution of perpetrators of sexual violence are withdrawn either because the perpetrator has not been arrested or there is no sufficient evidence to go to trial.

Chairperson of the task force on the Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act, Retired Lady Justice Effie Owuor says sexual offences should not go unreported.

"A number of challenges still remain in prevention and response to sexual violence. In some of these cases prosecutions maybe have not been done well, we haven't got the convictions we would have wanted to because the perpetrators they have not been arrested or there hasn't been enough evidence to prosecute them. In addition there have been cases which have resulted in acquittals due to lack of proper evidence. However, the problem of coordination and referral among key service providers has been identified time and again as the main challenge in response to sexual violence," she said.

"Many cases once reported at the first point of entry be it health facility, police stations, civil society organisations, village elder or the chiefs office do not progress to the other service providers. In some instances victims are unaware of the other services; in other instances the victims are not referred, in others the cases are unlawful settled outside the legal process and in yet others victims get referral fatigue."

Mbita Member of Parliament Milly Odhiambo urged the government to set aside more funds, including at the country level to sensitise women and girls on the need to report such cases for action to be taken to deter future occurrences.

As a member of the taskforce, she says it is critical to ensure that issues of gender based violence specifically sexual violence are factored in the planning processes at all levels both in the national and county level.

"The government has not put in enough money in this issue yet cases on sexual violence are increasing at an alarming rate so we must be ever vigilant so that we ensure we protect our women, girls and boy child against sexual violence. The taskforce needs to go round the 47 counties especially in training the county executives and county legislators," she said.

"The taskforce should be given more time so that we can ensure that even the devolved systems and structures can reach all the counties. Lack of knowledge by the citizens on availability of services, where to find services and what service standards to expect from different government agencies has also hampered responses to sexual violence."

The taskforce carried out case studies in Mombasa which indicated that 47 percent of the interviewed victims reported their cases to the police, 15 percent did not seek any services while 2 percent were forced into marriage.

While 78 percent of the respondents sought medical treatment, only 33 percent of these cases ended up in court and only 24 of these cases secured convictions.


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