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Murang’a gender team urged to act on cases

Murang’a County Gender Technical Working Group has been challenged to be proactive in dealing with the rising cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGV).

Speaking during the Gender Technical Working Group training at a Murang’a hotel, Administrative Assistant One, David Kasyoka, noted that the Gender Technical team ought to go to the grassroots level and help address some challenges like gender violence, alcohol, drugs, and substances, among other challenges crippling the county.

He observed that some of the factors leading to GBV in the county included drugs and substance abuse, mental health issues, domestic disputes, and retrogressive cultural beliefs and practices.

The gender technical working group will play a role in sensitising society to peaceful coexistence.

“Currently, cases of suicide are on the rise in Murang’a, and a week does not pass without us getting a report that someone has committed suicide,” he said, revealing that some of the cases involve boys and girls as young as 13 years old.

Kasyoka further urged the multi-sectorial team to boost the efforts the government is making to address the vice by sensitising the public to report incidences, support victims, and speak against harmful and retrogressive cultural beliefs and practices like female genital mutilation and early marriages.

“Leave the boardroom and get into society; that is where the real problem lies, and your expertise is needed if we are going to develop as a county, as a society, and as a country,” he urged.

The training that brought together representatives from various state departments, Civil Society Organizations, social workers, medical personnel, non-state actors, persons with disabilities, and Maendeleo ya Wanawake, among others, was to capacity-build the participants on a gender and gender-based violence policy formulation.

The training was organized by the State Department for Gender and the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) in partnership with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE Kenya).

On his part, Murang’a County Director for Gender Peter Muhia noted that the training was aimed at building the capacity of the working group on policy formulation on issues of Gender-based Violence that are affecting the county.

“The development of the Policy is a multi-sectoral approach involving many different stakeholders working in the gender space to facilitate the prevention and response to GBV,” said Muhia.

He explained that the working group has held quarterly reviews of deliberations to come up with gender-responsive measures to curb sexual and GBV and formulate measures aimed at reducing cases in the county.

“The policy will include strategies to effect its implementation in the community,” he said, adding that the policy is being developed against the backdrop of rising cases of GBV in the county.

Meanwhile, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Kenya Coordinator in Murang’a, Pauline Masese, stressed that FAWE Kenya intends to support the development of the policy by contributing resources and in-depth knowledge towards its formulation until it is successfully drafted, launched, and rolled up for implementation.

“To successfully develop and implement this gender policy, state and non-state actors must work together and coordinate their efforts to ensure that the county has a gender policy,” she said.

Masese divulged that the purpose of the policy is to guarantee the presence of robust and efficient processes and structures to operationalize laws and plans, along with effective measures for SGBV prevention and response.

“The policy will outline guidelines and regulations to ensure there are adequate and effective GBV prevention, response, and support structures for victims and survivors and their families and communities,” she added.

The Demographic and Health Survey 2022 report released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicated that 54 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 in Murang’a County have experienced physical violence, which is higher than the national average of 34 per cent.

Further, the report shows that in 2022, the rate of women who experienced sexual violence was 14 per cent, as compared to the countrywide rate of 7 per cent.

By Florence Kinyua and Anita Omwenga

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