Lobbyists have pushed for the establishment of gender-based violence (GBV) rescue centers in Kilifi County to protect victims from going back to their perpetrators.
The push comes five days after the launch of the ongoing 16 days of activism against GBV by Cabinet Secretary for Gender Aisha Jumwa that kicked off last week.
Groups from Mzazi Foundation, connect to Retain organizations and their partners met in Kilifi to discuss practical ways to rescue women and girls from repeated assaults by culprits after reporting the cases to the authorities.
Currently, there is no established system by the government where victims could stay, get counseling and heal before getting reconnected back with their families.
Led by Mzazi Foundation Programme Manager Arnold Endovo, the lobbyists said lack of rescue centers was a big challenge in the fight against GBV because some victims feared reporting cases of gender violence when the perpetrator is a close family member since they have nowhere to go afterward.
“It’s a challenge and we agree because we don’t have a set place or enough facilities. It’s a conversation we have had and that’s why we need rescue centers for gender-based victims and especially we are looking at the children. Those are the priorities we want to take care of,” said Endovo.
He added that they were engaging partners such as the county government so that they could see the implementation and management of these kinds of centers.
Endovo revealed that there were few places locally donated where victims could seek refuge but one of the key things they have focused on is to mobilize resources as they push for the establishment of the rescue homes.
“One of the things is, we need to come with resources together and we are talking with the county and all partners to see how we can sort that issue because if the perpetrator is within the family, it is one of the biggest challenges,” he added
Connect to Retain organization Programme Manager Kenfaith Karuta said although the government was yet to establish rescue centers, they have put in place enough strategies to push for the project including the formulation of GBV and gender development policies.
Karuta disclosed that the policies put forward, which are currently tabled at the County Assembly, will give the county government an opportunity to budget and build the rescue centers in all the sub-counties in Kilifi county if they are passed.
“There are indeed no rescue centers that are funded by the government, but first we had to make good strategies. Right now, some policies have been developed that give Kilifi County the chance to have rescue centers,” she said.
Karuta also stressed the need for GBV refuge saying it is not safe for victims to remain in the same house with their molesters after the cases have been reported and awaiting to be resolved.
“We know that rescue centers are important for a survivor to get justice because at other times, the victim is in a more dangerous situation when she stays where he has been abused,” she added
During the launch of the 16 days of activism against GBV last week, Kilifi governor Gideon Mung’aro while addressing the public disclosed that the County government would start by renovating a school that was donated near Kilifi town to address the issue of lack of a rescue center.
“Those who have been abused especially in the family will be able to be taken by the county government, placed there where there will be a place for training and a place to sleep so that they cannot be abused further,” he said.
He further stated that the rescue centers would save victims from opportunists who pretended to be saviours but ended up taking advantage of the desperate victims and sexually assault them again when they are under their custody.
By Jackson Msanzu