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Civil Society calls for action against rising sexual violence

Haki Africa, a Non-Governmental Organization has urged the government to make Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) against women a key part of its national response plans for Covid-19.

The Head of Department HAKI-Africa, Zaina Kombe, said it is worrying that between January and December 2020, a total of 5,009 cases were recorded through the National GBV toll-free helpline 1195, which is an increase of 1,411 (36 per cent) cases reported in 2019.

Speaking at a press briefing in Nairobi, Kombe singled out Nairobi, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Kiambu as the counties that have reported the highest cases of SGBV with the Coast counties closely following.

HAKI Africa in conjunction with local and community grassroots organizations are now calling on the government to declare sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), a national disaster.

The partnership has raised concerns following the increased cases of SGBV, arising from the economic and social pressures among citizens due to the precautionary and containment measures of covid-19.

In his address, the Executive Director HAKI Africa, Hussein Khalid, said that it is alarming that over 90 per cent of SGBV cases are committed by men who are also close relatives of the victims.

“The family is the fundamental unit of the society and violence within it, is a great threat to social cohesion,” he stressed, adding that statements and statistics are not enough in solving the problem and urged the government to provide a long lasting solution that will end gender based violence.

Speaking at the event the Social Justice Activist, Florence Kinyua requested the government to allocate sufficient funds for GBV response, and create safe spaces for individuals in mental distress to seek support.

“We have been witnessing SGBV for a long time. For the last 10 years I haven’t seen’ any stones turned’,” and added “Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, even as we work to beat Covid-19,” Kinyua noted.

Feminists for Peace Rights and Justice, Editar Adhiambo, called out to individuals to offer psychosocial support to those in need and avoid stigmatizing victims of Gender-Based Violence regardless of their sex.

“Let’s report cases of Gender-Based Violence to ensure the perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted,” urged Adhiambo.

By Morphine Opilio and Susan Njeri

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