Sexual violence survivors and civil society groups have raised concern over the increased cases of sexual violence during the electioneering period.
The activists called upon Kenyans to maintain peace before, during and after the forthcoming August 9th General Elections.
Assistant Director, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Lukas Kimanthi, appealed for political campaigns to be free from any form of violence, adding that sexual violence would not be tolerated in this year’s election or in the future.
Speaking, Wednesday, at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), during a conference that brought together sexual violence activists and survivors from across the country, Kimanthi stated that in the context of the elections, sexual violence is a topic that needs to be amplified by all relevant bodies in government.
He added that most of the sexual violence acts occur at the grass root level and therefore, there was need to involve people in the society stage that include, community workers to help mitigate sexual violence.
“We have been having meetings with the Court Users Committee which brings together different actors within the Criminal Justice System and part of its members of the community who we are educating on how to handle victims and on how to respond to presidential pardon cases, that involve perpetrators of sexual violence,” said Kimanthi.
Wangu Kanja Foundation, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Wangu Kanja, called upon the government to identify potential hotspots and provide additional safeguards, including ample security, street lighting and hotline numbers for reporting such cases, in the event that they may occur.
“We demand all Kenyans to be treated with dignity and respect as per provisions of the Kenyan Constitution and all political leaders to exercise restraint in their utterances. We are also calling upon the government to take strict measures, to ensure that every citizen across the country is protected from any form of violence especially during this electioneering period,” Kanja said.
Kanja added that sexual violence is undeniably a violation of human rights that has not only left victims and their families suffering from physical harm and psychological trauma but has also become the single most cruel, steadily growing crime in Kenya.
“In the sad event sexual violence does occur, we urge the state to ensure that survivors have timely access to emergency medical care, treatment and legal services. Additionally, the state should ensure any reported perpetrator is held accountable for their actions,” stated Kanja.
Tumaini Orte, a member of the survivor sexual violence network and Turkana County coordinator stated that the physical, psychological and socio-economic harm brought by sexual violence was overwhelming.
“Many of us have suffered physical injuries, gynecological complications such as raptured uterus, fistula, incontinence, sexual dysfunction and infertility: Sexually transmitted diseases HIV infections, depression and spousal desertions,” stated Orte.
By Wambui Muthoni and Bruno Rono