18 May 2017

Kenya: Women Lag Behind in Seeking Justice, Say Judges

Women lag behind in seeking justice for themselves amidst lack of adequate mechanisms to aid them do so in conflict situations, women judges from around the world have said.

Pointing out that only 11 sexual gender-based violence cases relating the 2007-2008 post-election violence were successfully prosecuted, Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi said on Wednesday that Kenya needed more structures to help women to frequently file cases in the courts.

"In most cases, women give up trying to choose between seeking for justice and attending to their immediate needs," said Ms Amadi. "So they leave the justice process on its own."

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Ms Amadi pointed out that prosecuting sexual violence cases arising from conflict situations was difficult as the required evidence -- such as medical history or the attire worn by the victims during the attack -- lacked weight the more the victims delayed to report cases.

She called for more structures ahead of the August 8 General Election to enhance prompt reporting.

In the 2007/2008 period, 6,081 violence case were reported but only 24 were prosecuted.

Ms Amadi also urged the women judges, through their associations, to take the lead in the discourse on how best to address the challenges within their local jurisdictions.

HINDER JUSTICE

"Huge gaps still exist that hinder justice for women victims, including cost, distance, technicalities of the processes and other distinctive experiences of women," said Ms Amadi.

Ms Amadi spoke at the ongoing four-day meeting of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) on gender issues and delivery of justice in various jurisdictions.

It is the second to be held in the country since the formation of the lobby in 1991.

Participants from Uganda and Nigeria said medical evidence was no longer relied on in rape cases and they, instead, opt for the victim's testimony as the crucial evidence.

In Benin, women are ignorant of their rights because they do not understand their national language, French, cannot afford court charges and also face harsh judgment.

INTERNATIONAL LAWS

The judges therefore called on the use of international laws and treaties in their various jurisdictions in determining matters that involve conflict situations instead of solely depending on those that are in their countries.

"It is more of a question for the prosecutors and not the judiciary because the judiciary waits and does not look for the cases.

The judiciary only deals with what is brought to them and those that are not brought before us there is nothing we can really do about them," said Ms Amadi.

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