Today the 4th of December 2020, the VSO in collaboration with the county government, the national government, and other regional corporates held a baraza/ forum at the dan Mwazo hall to create awareness about Gender-Based Violence joining the rest of the world in the 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign.
45% of women and girls in Kenya undergo physical violence while 14% of women and girls go through sexual violence. GBV can be physical, sexual, mental, and economic. Physical violence is about throwing punches and beating someone, sexual violence covers rape, sexual harassment and, impregnating a child below the age of 18, mental violence is manipulation and emotionally abusing someone and economic violence applies when women are denied some rights especially matters related to land.
The moderator, Joyce Peshu, the VSO Project Administrator, clearly highlighted that GBV is rampant and it affects both genders. She added that the pandemic has fueled these kinds of violence and many people have fallen victim.
The forum had a panel of representatives from different organizations. From the county government office of gender, the police department, child services department, department of gender National Government, Moi hospital, and the Kenya Counselling and Psychological Association.
The panelists’ main responsibility was to ensure the audience learned more about Gender-Based Violence by informing them about their rights, policies, and strategies that need to be implemented and advising them on how to tackle or take action against GBV. Equally, they were tasked with answering the burning questions from the audience.
The county representative present, went ahead to state that new policies and strategies are being set aside to ensure that victims of GBV get the help they need. Additionally, he told the “wananchi” present that sensitization centers will be brought to our villages and communities to ensure that people from the grass roots are made more aware about GBV, the rights and actions to be taken against perpetrators and law breakers.
The Kenya Counselling and Psychological Association representative touched on mental health issues and its relation to GBV. He stated that, some of these perpetrators and victims need counselling because it is more of a psychological issue.
Other key matters that were addressed and highlighted by the panelists especially by the doctor was the importance of not tampering with a rape victim in any way. She added that change of cloths and taking a shower after being raped can destroy evidence hence making it hard for health officials to assess the likelihood of being raped. She urged the audience to not to shy away from reporting rape cases.
The police officer present concurred on this and added that reporting a rape case or any form of violence to the police should be the first thing to do once it happens. Only if the case is critical, the victim should be rushed to the hospital first for treatment.
Child marriages were also touched on. The child services department representative mentioned that child marriages are quite rampant in this county and that perpetrators could serve more than 5 years in prison or pay a fine of 1million Kenya shillings. Additionally, the issue on rape was also widely discussed. He highlighted that rapist, especially those that rape children mostly below the age of 10, serve over 30years in prison or more.
Other panelists urged the audience to be the ambassadors of change and to help stop gender-based violence in their homes and communities at large.
The co-moderator Lilian Mumbua, Voi4ioV foundation Director, spearheaded the Q&A and remarks segment ensuring that the audience was satisfied with responses from the panelists.
The baraza served as an opportunity for the community to learn more about Gender Based Violence and matters surrounding it. It created a platform that promoted openness from both the audience and the panelists in dissecting GBV issues. The audience surely learnt a lot.
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