Kwale Governor Fatuma Achani has called for the elimination of all forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) against women and children in the coastal county.
Achani says stakeholders working on issues affecting women and children, particularly the girl child need to find a lasting solution to the pervasive threat of GBV.
The governor reiterated her administration’s commitment to intensifying the protection of women and children against all forms of human rights violations.
She says the county leadership will be working with all stakeholders including Non-Governmental Organizations in highlighting cases of gender-based violence in the communities.
The Governor decried that women are still subjected to many forms of human rights abuses such as rape, torture and early marriages.
Achani said the high rate of drugs and substance abuse in the coastal region was to blame for the rising cases of domestic violence.
Achani says the triple threat of pregnancies, new HIV infections and gender-based violence cases among adolescents and young people is real.
She said for the campaign against GBV to bear meaningful fruit, men must be encouraged to join the fight against gender-based violence.
She said that reporting of sexual and gender-based offences at the community level was still low and underscored the need to create awareness of gender-based violence.
The Governor says the low levels of reporting could be attributed to the stigma and discrimination associated with violence of a sexual nature and also cultural norms and attitudes that tolerate and legitimize sexual violence.
Achani said the scourge was rampant in rural and remote communities and urged residents to challenge and reject all forms of gender-based violence.
She said girls are mostly at risk of gender based violence especially sexual of nature.
“There is therefore need for increased and sustained public awareness campaigns to break the stigma associated with sexual violence and also to inform the public that sexual violence is a crime punishable with many years of imprisonment,” she said.
The Governor issued a stern warning to those involved in cases of gender-based violence that they will face the full force of the law.
Achani said this in Mackinnon ward in Samburu Sub County during this year’s world commemoration against GBV.
The annual “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign commenced on November 25 and runs up to December 10.
The annual event seeks to bring to the forefront the urgent need to address and eradicate violence against women and girls worldwide.
The 2023 campaign is running under the theme ‘Unite! Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls.
Achani stressed that GBV is immoral and damaging to the survivors and called for collective action against the perpetrators.
The Governor says usually women, children and people living with disabilities form the bulk of the victims of GBV and stressed the significance of the campaign in efforts aimed at eliminating the lingering social menace.
Achani revealed that the devolved government has recently unveiled a gender-based violence rescue and recovery centre in Kwale town.
She says the centre is a post-rape care situated at the Kwale County referral hospital and will be providing 24-hour care to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
She says such centres would provide accommodation for victims of GBV in the region besides saving the victims from the stigma and discrimination usually associated with the problem.
Achani says the devolved unit will be building more rescue and recovery centres in the sub-counties to help intervene in cases of assault victims who require help.
By Hussein Abdullahi