Cases of rape, defilement and physical assault on women and children are on the rise in Nakuru, according to the county's Gender and Child Protection Unit.
Officer in-charge of the unit at Nakuru Central Police Station, Inspector Cress Otieno, says women and children (aged 15 and below), make up the majority of victims.
The areas where violence against the vulnerable groups are rampant include shanty residences in Kaptembwa, Rhonda, Bondeni and Nyamaruto among others.
"We rarely receive cases from men and so far, we have identified hot spots. There are more cases reported from Kaptembwa, Rhonda, Bondeni and Nyamaruto, all of which are low income settlement areas," he said.
Started in 2003, today, the unit has 12 police officers trained to handle gender issues.
"Seven are women and five are male. They are trained to deal with cases of gender-based violence. Our area of jurisdiction is Nakuru West and Nakuru East regions," added Mr Otieno.
The Nation learnt has learnt that all its gender officers are clad in civilian clothing to create a friendlier environment for victims.
They are trained to engage survivors, get their stories and help them record statements.
"At times you find that some of the victims, especially those who have been sexually assaulted, tend to choose an officer among us to talk to. We give them such opportunities because of the trauma and psychological issues they go through," said gender officer Ms Jane Wangui.
She adds that confidentiality is a crucial component to protect the identity of the survivors.
Apart from recording statements, the officers are mandated to help victims seek medical treatment, carry out investigations and hand cases over to the court.
Nakuru County police commander Stephen Matu said all police stations and some police posts in the devolved unit have active gender desks.
"We have functional gender desks at Nakuru Central Police Station, Bondeni, Kaptembwa, Njoro, Gilgil and Naivasha which handle cases of gender-based violence among adults and children," he said.
These, he said, are fully furnished with at least four bedrooms that have basic items that cater to stranded survivors for a short period of time.
"For women with children who happen to report their incidences late in the night, we provide food and bedding for them for at least 24 hours," he said.
The rooms seen by the Nation at Nakuru Central gender unit have a washroom equipped with water, soap, slippers and towels among other basic needs.
Beside the bedrooms, there is also a kitchen.
"The only challenge we have is we lack a social worker. That's why we don't keep survivors here for more than 24 hours," the police boss added.
The gender units work closely with medical facilities, prisons, area chiefs, children's homes and local non-governmental organisations that work on human rights.