HIJABI Mentorship Program, a Community Based Organization in Kwale County has kicked off a 16-day campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) on women and girls across the county.
The campaign aims at creating awareness by steering women baraza’s in the four sub-counties of Matuga, Kinango, Msambweni and Lunga Lunga to address issues of gender-based violence.
According to the organization, the coastal county has witnessed a surge in violence against women and girls, consequently necessitating stakeholders to step in and deter the situation.
Reports from the community-based organization indicate that 7 out of 10 women in the county are victims of gender-based violence, with the case of domestic violence and wife inheritance being more rampant.
HIJABI Mentorship Program is a community-based organization in Kwale addressing sexual, reproductive health, gender rights and gender-based violence in underserved communities in the county.
The 16-Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
Addressing the press during the launching of the campaign in Matuga sub-county, HIJABI Mentorship Program Chairperson, Mariam Mwacharo said that there is a need for all stakeholders in the county to scale up the fight against gender-based violence.
Macharo added that many women and girls in the county are still subjected to outdated cultures such as female genital mutilation, early marriages and wife inheritance thus denying them their basic rights.
“Our culture is not friendly to women and girls. Young girls of school age have been denied their right to education by their parents and close family members and instead they are forced into early marriages,’’Mwacharo said.
Mwacharo urged the county government to establish rescue centers for victims of gender-based violence.
She said that the rescue centers will help victims of GBV cases that are perpetrated by close relatives, access justice.
“Majority of the GBV cases involving family members have been turned down in courts of law because of the influence from the suspects. If we can get a place to seclude the victims from the other members of the society then we can assure them of justice,” Mwacharo said.
“She asked the local administrators such as chiefs, assistant chiefs, and village elders to increase their surveillance and help victims to get justice.
In addition, HIJABI Mentorship Program’s Communication Officer, Mariam Ibrahim said the campaign will formulate platforms for women and girls to share information on GBV and help perpetrators of such iniquities face trial in a court of law.
Ibrahim noted that the majority of victims of gender-based violence have remained silent thus giving powers to culprits to up their game.
“We want to see women and girls becoming bold enough to report these cases to the police for actions to be taken. The culture of being quiet is harming our society and we must overcome it,” Ibrahim said.
The Communication officer noted that cases of early marriages and pregnancies are alarming in the county especially in Matuga sub county.
She said that all stakeholders should take seriously the war on GBV and rescue school girls from the inhuman acts.
She asked parents to take their responsibilities seriously by providing their daughters with basic needs such as sanitary towels which are playing a big role in teen pregnancies.
“There is no need to blame Boda Boda riders over the increase of teen pregnancies since it is happening because some parents are reluctant in playing their roles. If you don’t play your role well, somebody else will step in,” she said.
Ibrahim noted that the culture of not educating girls should be discarded by all means since it has denied many girls their right to education in Kwale.
She insisted that the right to education is universal and parents and guardians should not discriminate against girls in getting formal education.
A recent report released by the office of the Deputy County Commissioner in Matuga sub county showed that close to 30 girls gave birth during the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination in 2020.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi