Nakuru County Government is in the process of establishing Gender-Based Violence (GBV) rescue centres in all the 11 constituencies, to address issues of violence and offer counseling services to victims.
Speaking during a ground breaking ceremony of the Sh. 15 million GBV rescue centre at Gilgil, County Director-In-Charge of Gender and Youth Affairs, Josphat Kimemia, said there was an increase in cases, especially due to the Covid-19 economic challenges and containment measures.
The facility which will be constructed in three phases with the first one costing Sh 7 million is designed to host men, women and persons living with disabilities who are survivors of gender based violence.
“Our statistics indicate that the number of men who have been assaulted or experienced violence in the past one and half years has significantly gone up, though their number is lower, compared to women.
Wife battering, defilement, rape, early marriages and pregnancies were some of the forms of violence meted on women and children in the 11 constituencies,” the Director noted.
Mr Kimemia indicated that Covid-19 had disrupted the social order exposing Kenyans to various forms of violence, ranging from physical and emotional abuse, child labour, transactional sex and child marriage.
“The rescue centre is intended to provide integrated care and strengthen service delivery for Sexual and Gender Based Violence survivors. The facility will not only be used as a safe house but also as a place where the survivors learn new skills for income generation.
Financial woes occasioned by collapse of businesses and job cuts have exerted a mental pressure on household providers, increasing tension and family feuds,” the Director pointed out.
Mr Kimemia indicated that a significant proportion of GBV victims are women and that most of the cases were perpetrated at night during curfew, when they had nowhere to run to.
“Our ultimate goal is to have the rescue centres in all the 11 Sub-counties where victims can seek refuge for rest for the night as they plan on retributive steps, get psycho-social support and counseling to be able to cope with their condition,” he noted.
The Director lamented that in some parts of the county parents were marrying off their daughters at a tender age, with school going girls being the most vulnerable to teenage pregnancy.
He urged community based organisations and humanitarian agencies to supplement the county government’s efforts by setting up private rescue centres, especially in rural areas prone to such kind of violence.
“Curfews and other Covid-19 containment measures not only fuelled GBV- related risks and violence against women and girls, but also narrowed survivors’ ability to distance themselves from their abusers as well as reducing their ability to access external support,” Mr Kimemia added.
The Director observed that most victims are forced to wait in police cells whenever they report such cases while others stay with female police officers due to lack of rescue centres.
“Police officers may be willing to help, but we all know that they have limited accommodation. It is up to us to identify partners and put up such facilities wherever possible,” he added.
By Anne Mwale