The National Director of Gender Protus Onyango has cited poverty as one of the major contributing factors to the Gender Based Violence (GBV) cases in Busia County.
Speaking during the operationalization of Inter-governmental consultation framework for gender forum in Busia town on Tuesday, Onyango noted that Busia has been ranked as the third poorest county within the nation despite being endowed with lots of potential.
“It is very unfortunate that the County enjoying good equatorial climate with very good fertile land and optimal population is still the third poorest County in Kenya,” he said.
Onyango argued that poverty was a critical issue for the Gender technical working group because it contributes to many issues that have bedeviled the County.
“Poverty contributes to the increasing gender based violence cases that we are witnessing in Busia County,” he said adding that it also contributes to other aspects of GBV like wife battering, rape, defilement and drunkenness.
He expressed concern that most GBV cases go unreported while very little action was being taken against the reported ones.
“This leads to a vicious circle of poverty because when a woman who takes care of children is murdered, progress becomes very difficult,” he said.
The official urged the County and National government officers to work together in addressing issues of GBV and women empowerment through the County Gender Technical working group.
“The State Department of Gender is in the process of operationalizing the technical working groups across the 47 counties,” he said.
At the same time, Onyango said that the County needs to have a very strong GBV committee to address issues in the County.
He commended the Civil Society Organizations for supporting survivors of GBV especially in Butula and Samia Sub counties.
Rural Education and Empowerment Programme Director Mary Makokha said that the Civil Society Organization were in the process of breaking the silence on GBV.
Makokha however stated that the County’s referral systems were still weak, adding that victims were still being charged for P3 forms.
“This move has caused several victims to give up after being told to pay Sh. 2,000 at the hospitals,” she said.
She added that the County leadership has lived in denial for a long time but the situation was improving with a number of leaders now giving political good will.
“Whenever we talk about these things, we are viewed as those out to tarnish the name of the County, but a section of the County leadership has come to know the truth,” she said.
The official at the same time said that more than 300 cases of children who have been defiled by their parents and close relatives have been reported to her organization.
Busia Chief Magistrate Lucy Ambasi said that the judiciary was very keen and dedicated to ensure that GBV cases are given the first priority.
“We want to make sure that files are moving as fast as possible so that survivors do not stay long in the dispensation of justice,” she said.
The forum brought together National and County Government officers, religious leaders and Civil Society Organizations for capacity building on the Intergovernmental Consultative Framework for Gender and the structure of the County Gender Sector Working Group.
By Salome Alwanda