Kenya: The Gaps in Tackling Gender Based Violence and How We Can Fill Them

12 December 2019

One of the things that stood out at the 1st 2019 National Gender Based Violence Conference in Kenya was the gaps in the processes and systems handling prevention and tackling Gender based violence. Gaps in reporting, case management, responses, prosecution and men involvement.

Men Involvement in Tackling Gender Based Violence

Men are often viewed as the perpetrators of Gender Based Violence while they too are victims of abuse. The Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014 found that 39 percent of married women and 9 percent of men aged 15 to 49 had experienced spousal, physical or sexual violence.

Changing the conversation from pointing fingers and blaming men to involving them in GBV conversations. From the conversations at Kenya School Monetary of Monetary Studies, men are more likely to participate when the conversation is more about what’s in GBV prevention for them, than them being accused of perpetuating GBV.

Gaps in Gender Based Violence Messaging

Did you know that repeatedly asking someone on a date even after they said no is classified as harassment and abuse by the UN? Yes, no means no and yes means yes. There’s an obvious discordant between social norms and the messages surrounding GBV.

Think about the messages you’ve seen around HIV/AIDs. HIV/AIDs awareness uses minimum basic information. From schools, to hospitals, VCTs and other places, the information is the same. Gender Based Violence activists and partners should team up with the Ministry of Education to implement minimum basic information on GBV.

Gaps in Reporting, Response and Prosecution
These gaps come from having systems that aren’t strong enough. For example, the County Gender Offices are not fully equipped to handle GBV cases. These offices are the most crucial responders at the county and grassroots level.

The GBV centre at Kenyatta National Hospital doesn’t have a 360 degree approach to GBV, with regards to having a holistic health ( mental, physical and psychological), reporting (police involvement and case generation) under one roof. This approach by hospitals and supporting partners, would mean effective case reporting, follow up and prosecution.

What we can do is continue talking about Gender Based Violence, continue to define abuse as abuse and call it out and work as a society to strengthen the systems we have. As the UNFPA Country Representative, Olajide Demola said, if the systems in place are not enough, they can’t be trusted to respond to emergencies urgently and sufficiently enough. Whatever weakness systems have, they’re exaggerated during the emergencies.

Having more conferences such as these ensures that we’re holding the people assigned to deal with GBV red flags accountable.

If you are going through abuse or you know a person going through abuse, the Gender-Based Violence-free hotline is 1195. Furthermore, if you would like to join a community of women healing from abuse, WhatsApp +254736275978.

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