Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa has pledged to fight gender-based violence in the country, especially that which involves young school girls.
She warned chiefs and their assistants to desist from solving cases of early pregnancies and forced marriages in kangaroo courts, saying it was uncouth to “exchange the virginity of our girls with chicken and goats.”
Speaking in Ganda Ward of Kilifi County Tuesday, during a thanksgiving service for her appointment as cabinet secretary, Jumwa warned chiefs that they would be held liable for any cases they arbitrate in which payment of chicken and goats is done for sexual assault against young girls.
Jumwa at the same time urged the police to stop intimidating GBV victims by asking them embarrassing questions. “I urge county commissioners, chiefs and the police to stop asking questions about how the girls were dressed or where their parents were when the assault took place as this is embarrassing to the victims,” she said.
She said the practice had made many GBV victims, especially school girls, not to report atrocities against them despite the fact that those who violate them are people known to them.
The CS said people were taking advantage of the famine situation in Kilifi County to commit sexual crimes against young girls and blamed parents for allowing their girls to ask for assistance from people and do whatever those people ask of them.
“The issue of gender-based violence in Kilifi County is alarming and people are taking advantage of the situation. There are cases of mothers asking their daughters to seek favours from people and tell the girls to do whatever those people say,” she said.
She said she would use all means, including the law, to ensure that GBV is eradicated in the county and the entire country during her tenure as CS. “I am a victim and I know how painful this thing can be. Gender-based violence in Kilifi and Kenya has to be a thing of the past,” she said.
On the squatter menace in Kilifi and the Coast region as a whole, the CS urged local leaders led by Governor Gideon Mung’aro to start identifying land being occupied by squatters with a view to buying it for the settlement of those squatters.
This, she said, was in line with President William Ruto’s pledge that his administration would buy one million acres of land and settle squatters in the country.
On the famine situation in Kilifi, Jumwa said the government would ensure that no one will die of hunger, noting that the government had already started a relief food distribution programme in conjunction with county governments.
She urged the county government to buy seeds and distribute to farmers to plant during the current short rains season in parts of the county, noting that the relief food programme is just a short-term measure.
She said Kilifi County would benefit from the government’s plan to build 100 dams that will be used on irrigation agriculture, noting that Rare Dam in Ganze Constituency would be among them.
She called on leaders and residents to forget about the campaign period and support all leaders, irrespective of their political inclinations, with a view to accelerating development.
Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro thanked President Ruto for appointing Jumwa to the cabinet and announced that he and Jumwa, who vied for the Kilifi gubernatorial position in the August 9, 2022 elections, had buried the hatchet and would work together for the benefit of the people of Kilifi.
Mung’aro said that through a partnership with the Kenya Commercial Bank, the county government would disburse Sh500 million annually to fund micro, small and medium enterprises through a fund he inherited from his predecessor, Amason Kingi, known as Mbegu Fund, whose name he said he would change.
He directed all boda boda operators to register in cooperative societies to access the fund, adding that those who would be in the cooperatives would be exempted from the monthly levies they pay to the county government.
“The county government will not charge the monthly levies to bodaboda operators, but you must remit that money as a saving to your respective Saccos, and the receipts you will be issued with will act as your business permit,” he said.
The function that was graced by a number of bishops from various denominations was also addressed by Kilifi County Commissioner Mr. Kutswa Olaka and a host of Members of the Kilifi County Assembly.
Olaka called for an urgent leaders meeting to address the numerous challenges facing the county among them the drought situation, gender based violence, the killing of elderly persons and drug abuse.
By Emmanuel Masha