Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki has called for the establishment of gender-based violence (GBV) rescue centres in every constituency to curb violence and offer counselling services to victims of GBV.
Speaking during the launch of a report on GBV in the Coast region by Haki Africa, the senator said there was an increase the cases, especially due to the Covid-19 imposed curfew.
The Haki Africa report shows an increase in GBV from 76 in 2019 to 771 in 2020, reflecting a 914 per cent increase.
The closure of schools exposed children to all forms of violence, including violent discipline by family members, emotional abuse, child labour, transactional sex and child marriage.
Economic hardships due to job losses or unpaid leave also took a mental toll on household providers, increasing tension and family feuds.
Senator Faki noted that the majority of the victims are women and that most of the cases happened at night during curfew when they had nowhere to run.
"The idea of having the rescue centres is to give these women a place to rest for the night to plan on their next move, get psycho-social support and counselling to be able to deal with their situation," Senator Faki said.
He urged the county governments to set up rescue centres, especially in areas prone to such kind of violence.
"Curfews and lockdowns not only served to increase GBV- related risks and violence against women and girls, but also limited survivors' ability to distance themselves from their abusers as well as reducing their ability to access external support," Mr Faki added.
The senator said most victims are forced to wait in police cells whenever they report such cases while others stay with female police officers due to lack of rescue centres.
"We know police officers have an acute housing shortage and may not be able to assist these victims. This is why I insist we need such facilities," he noted.
"This can only be done if we set aside money in the Constituency Development Fund and even through the office of the County Women Representatives," Mr Faki added.
The Haki Africa report also indicates a fraction of men as having been assaulted or experienced violence, though their number, compared to women, is insignificant.
"The main cause of violence has been the lockdown and the curfew, economic crisis as a result of the loss of work. Most victims have had to endure suffering throughout the Covid-19 period in 2020," said Haki Africa Executive Director Hussein Khalid.
He said wife battering, defilement, rape, early marriages and pregnancies were some of the forms of violence meted on women and children, with Kilifi County leading in cases of GBV.
Likoni MP Mishi Mboko, said poverty has led to parents selling off their daughters at a tender age, with school going girls being the most vulnerable to teenage pregnancy.