Kenya: Female Judges Now Appeal for Sgbv Courts

Judge's gavel.

Women judges are the latest sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) responders appealing for special courts to expedite conclusion of the related offences.

Since last year when SGBV cases rose by 92.2 per cent, women rights advocates have consistently made the call to save survivors from extended psychological trauma and costly litigation.

"As women judges, we continue to advocate for dedicated courts to deal with SGBV matters," said Justice Agnes Murgor during a webinar themed First responders' role in Sexual Gender Based Violence: Compliance and adherence to the law, last week.

"(This will) ease the trauma experienced by survivors as they navigate through the long and tedious court processes," she added in the virtual meeting jointly convened by International Association of Women Judges-Kenya Chapter and UN Women.

In the African continent, South Africa, South Sudan and Botswana have established dedicated courts accelerating survivors' access to justice.

In South Africa, a 2002 Sexual Offences Courts Blueprint by the National Prosecuting Authority paved the way for the creation of such courts.

Protects survivors

By the end of 2005, a total of 74 courts had been set up across the country resulting in conclusion of more cases and improved handling of victims, indicates a 2013 Ministerial Advisory Task Team on the Adjudication of Sexual Offences Matters

Botswana's GBV courts started operations on December 1 last year, while South Sudan's Chief Justice (CJ) Reec Chan Madut officially launched the country's first GBV and Juvenile Court in Juba, on December 3, last year.

The courts have designated two rooms for hearings GBV cases. They are fitted with state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment. This eliminates contact between perpetrators and survivors and hence, protects survivors from further mental harm.

"Concluding the court cases in six months could encourage the survivors to report. The cases run up to 10 years and so people give up," said Ms Sophy Onyino, legal officer at Women Challenged to Challenge, during an April 15 webinar on SGBV Interventions during Covid-19.

Establishing SGBV courts is a priority that women rights advocates hope CJ Martha Koome would fulfil during her tenure.

The long wait for justice opens a window for compromising of the survivors' with promises of marriage and monetary compensation.

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