Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a pain to society. With all the unprecedented changes that the pandemic has come with, social injustices such as Gender-Based Violence (GBV) against women have aggravated.
The sense of human value and respect for women has continued to be at an all-time low, due to entrenched patriarchal systems and unequal power dynamics that hold women back from reaching their full potential in society. Women and girls remain the primary victims of GBV which not only impacts their physical being but their mind and soul as well. They are often left without any form of immediate protection and this creates a wound that robs them of their dignity, integrity and, identity.
Kenya has made significant strides to address the spiking occurrences of GBV against women and girls by enacting laws and policies, such as the Protection against Domestic Violence Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Marriage Act, and the Matrimonial Property Act. These laws and policies have been put in place to help the police, government and other stakeholders strengthen their response to GBV.
In as much as women and girls are the primary victims, the majority of them fear taking legal action against the perpetrators of the violence. This could be as a result of the threats they receive from the perpetrators which makes them fear for their lives or the high cost of seeking legal action.
As the country continues working towards making sure that everyone is free from any form of GBV, an area that calls for improvement would be the training and informing of judicial and police officers on the Sexual Offences Act and other laws, policies, and guidelines such as the Protection against Domestic Violence Act. This would give them an objective eye when dealing with the reported cases of Sexual and Domestic GBV whose perpetrators are often family members of the victims.
Community members also need to be educated on their roles and responsibilities in eradicating GBV, both under international and Kenyan human rights laws. Finally, women and girls need to be empowered to ensure that they are economically independent and can participate in decision-making processes especially on matters that directly affect them.
By Steve Juma, Youth Chamnpion, Homa Bay County