The government should introduce Adopt a Cop program aimed at curbing Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), arson and other forms of indiscipline in secondary schools.
The program is already being piloted in eight primary schools in Kisumu Central, Kisumu West, Muhoroni and Nyando sub-counties with Wadegu, Nyakina, Sinyolo, Huma and Boge primary schools being some of the beneficiaries.
Women Concern Center (WCC), Director Margaret Omondi said during Gender Technical Working Group (GTWG) for Kisumu West that her Community Based Organization (CBO) was working with Plan International to strengthen the referral system.
Mrs. Omondi added that WCC which is set to extend its programs to Siaya County was focused on tackling violence against women and girls, facilitating access to justice for the survivors of SGBV apart from strengthening the court users committee in Kisumu as a whole.
Asked to explain why Kisumu West remained the center of focus, she explained that it is where women and girls continue to be disinherited thus the reason behind advising local residents to do succession before death while spearheading Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in the area.
Working with Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation (NORAD), the WCC Director stated the key programs they intend to undertake to economically empower women and girls as; handling cases of children Living with Disabilities, Table banking to fund the psycho-social support groups and the ‘Total kit’ to encourage saving, borrowing and purchase of sanitary pads.
“Some of our key partners are the Ministries of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Education department and Teachers Service Commission (TSC). We also have introduced the Speak out boxes where the learners write small things affecting them in school on small pieces of paper,” she explained.
Mrs. Omondi narrated an incident in which a girl threatened to commit suicide if no one took the bold step to save her from her father who sexually abused her persistently although she declined to mention the names or area the survivor hailed from.
She told the GTWG forum that WCC also used theatre to educate residents on SGBV issues against women, girls and youth in general while seeking justice for the vulnerable groups.
Mrs. Omondi argued that it was on the basis of the reasons above that WCC has been pushing for the Adopt-a Cop program to be extended to secondary schools “ if we hope to curb cases of burning in our schools alongside other criminal acts.”
She stated that among the challenges they have had to deal with include; head teachers who were clearly reluctant to allow the introduction of the program in their schools for fear of the police and so cleverly demanded that WCC avail letters from the department of education.
Similarly, the program only works with a small number of learners like 100 pupils yet there could be as many as 400 in need of the program and aged between 7 – 14 years while most of the schools they visited are far off from the main roads thus quite cumbersome in transportation.
The Church was also challenged to fill the void in family life counseling for parents to take up their role of parenting instead of leaving the responsibility to other stakeholders like teachers and society in general.
By Joseph Ouma