Civil Society Groups (CSOs) campaigning against gender-based violence (GBV) in Kilifi County have called for the development of laws and policies to help stem the vice.
The CSOs, under the umbrella of the Gender Based Violence Network (GBVN), urged the national and county government to formulate policies that would make it easy for them to operate as they fight GBV and for victims to get justice.
During a workshop hosted by Haki Yetu Organization at a Malindi Restaurant Friday, the CSOs underscored the need for them to develop a referral system for victims of gender-based violence and forge a united front with a view to avoiding duplication of efforts.
The network’s secretary, Ms Helder Eslie, noted said that the organization had already drafted a policy for Kilifi County and asked the county executive and legislature to fast-track its passage and adoption.
“There are so many hurdles in the journey to ensure victims of GBV, especially women and girls, get justice,” Ms Eslie said adding, “This is due to lack of adequate laws and policies on the vice, and omission that has denied justice to many.”
Ms Eslie lamented that teenage pregnancies were still rampant in Kilifi due to family conflicts that make children lack role models at home.
“One out of ten married couples in Kilifi County fight daily, resulting in children leaving their homes to seek comfort elsewhere and in the process find themselves engaging in sexual activities that result in pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.
She said CSOs had been going to homes to talk to parents on the need to avoid conflicts at home and properly parent their children.
Athman Ali Said, the networks chairman urged parents to take full responsibility of their children during the long holidays and talk to their children on the dangers of idleness and engaging in anti-social activities.
“It is during long holidays like these when girls fall pregnant either due to consensual sexual activities, rape or defilement and we urge parents to very vigilant,” said Mr. Said.
He pointed accusing fingers at some religious leaders, who he said instead of being the mirrors of society, had found themselves on the wrong side of the law by defiling girls and boys they are expected to protect.
“The community looks at religious leaders as a mirror, but it is unfortunate that some religious leaders have sexually assaulted boys and girls. This is a great shame and the devil that has possessed these religious leaders must be exorcized so the youth can be in safe hands whenever they are with religious leaders,” he said.
The coordinator of Haki Yetu Organization, Trizza Gacheru, said the consultative meeting had been called with a view to forging a united front on GBV as the country moves towards the 16 days of activism against the vice from November 25 to December 10, 2019.
Gacheru said laws and policies on GBV would help end the vice as CSOs and other actors, including the police and the judiciary, would find it easy to intervene whenever they are called upon.
One of the major hindrances to seeking justice for GBV victims was found to be lack of funds to transport witnesses. Gacheru said her organization was willing to provide fare for witnesses to travel to court.
By Emmanuel Masha