Women Rights Organisations in Eastern Region under the auspices of Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya) have called on the government to effectively implement policies and laws relating to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) as well as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The lobbyists said despite efforts being made by the government to address SGBV cases, there still existed gaps in the policy and laws implementation that called for a holistic approach from state and non-state actors to tackle the problem.
Even with the laws in place, the women complained that certain types of violence against women and girls including domestic violence and sexual abuse had intensified as they raised concern on whether they were punitive enough to act as a deterrent to perpetrators.
“We are asking the government to make the laws responsive and actionable to ensure women and girls live fulfilled lives and also enjoy their rights,” said Beth Kawira who is a Sexual and Reproductive Health Officer with Young Women Christians Association of Kenya (YWCA).
She said there was no way the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were going to be achieved in an environment where women rights are being violated.
“How can we achieve SDG 5 on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls if the government doesn’t support women rights groups in upholding and respecting their rights,” said the lobbyist.
Another women rights crusader, Jacinta Mbithe, took issue with the manner in which some communities were handling cases of defilement by opting for an out of court settlement through what is commonly known as kangaroo courts.
She said the law was clear that cases of rape or defilement must go through a criminal justice system, noting that ‘courts’ initiated at the village level only served in protecting sex pests and in essence increasing the incidences.
Ms.Mbithe chastised parents ‘abetting’ the crime by accepting to be silenced with money, saying no amount of money can be placed on a life of a young girl whose life will never be the same again after such an ordeal.
On her part, Zafaran Fuadh, said they were yet to win war on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as the practice was still rife in some rural communities in the country that consider it a prerequisite for a good marriage.
She said there was a need to promote local initiatives to end the vice, including carrying more sensitization campaigns on its dangers.
By Samuel Waititu