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Organization unveils project to tackle GBV among artisanal Gold miners

A Community Based Organization (CBO) has launched a project to combat Gender Based Violence at Kakamega gold mining sites.

The organization plans to conduct Gender Based Violence Screening and establish a community champion network to assist in identifying, referring, and reporting such cases to authorities.

The Organization’s Executive Director Halima Nyota says the project was informed after they discovered that most cases went unreported with the majority of survivors suffering in silence as perpetrators go scot free.

The issue of gold-related sexual exploitation has led to HIV/AIDS infections, teenage pregnancies, school dropouts, and other retrogressive practices posing risks to women and girls.

“Violence against women and girls is both a cause and a consequence of their under-development, since many women experience economic and social discrimination due to violence, while the majority’s economic and social conditions increase their vulnerability to gender-based violence,” she explained.

Nyota said the project which is funded by Amplify Change, will be implemented in the next 18 months in Ikolomani, Shinyalu and Bushiangala. Amplify Change is a global organization that supports Civil Society Organizations to implement projects geared towards attaining Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights(SRHR) for all.

“Violence of any form is against human rights and it attacks the child, the girl and even men. For instance, in the month of January, this country recorded many femicide cases. We want to secure women and girls in the mining communities to have their full potential,” she added.

The Executive Director says the organization will also involve men by ensuring they are part of the champions network in order to support the fight against GBV, while championing for women leadership to fill the gender disparity.

“We are working at strengthening the GBV referral pathways knowing that it is one thing reporting a case and another thing having a case acted upon, but also working with different gender sector working groups to ensure that as far as cases are coming up, police and the gender department are on standby to support the survivors,” she observed.

According to the County Coordinator of Reproductive Health Services, Imelda Barasa, the most common and worst form of Violence among the Mining communities is emotional violence.

She cites a case where a man earned over Sh15000 in one instance after mining gold which he later lost in gambling leading to depression.

“Because of that, he has not spoken to his family as he is extremely distressed,” she added.

Barasa noted that economic violence is also common especially when men have an advantage of getting more money than women when doing gold mining.

The government’s reproductive health interventions in Shinyalu Sub County, primarily inhabited by mining communities, have significantly reduced teenage pregnancies and HIV infections, with support from stakeholders.

The Reproductive health coordinator is working to reduce HIV infections and school dropout’s cases in gold mining communities with support from various stakeholders.

The County Chair of Civil Society Network Edward Wambani called on the National and County governments to avail data on GBV that will enable the CSOs to understand the areas to focus on and specific interventions that will help address the vice.

“We want to ensure that we eliminate GBV cases amongst the Gold mining communities by the end of the 18-month project phase,” he noted.

Wambani also thanked the county government of Kakamega for establishing a GBV Rescue centre in Shinyalu, which will go a long way in assisting with referral cases.

By Moses Wekesa

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