Fight against sexual violence in Kenya 'dimmed'

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original

Lack of comprehensive data on the magnitude of sexual violence, traditional practices, poverty and limited resources stand in the way of ending violence against women, a minister has said.

While addressing the Status on the Commission of Women at the UN Headquarters in New York, USA, Gender Minister Naomi Shaban said the government’s effort in fighting one of the “most pervasive” human rights violations continues to be dimmed.

In her speech, she highlighted the progress the country has made over the years and reaffirmed its commitment to accelerate efforts towards the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.

“Kenya’s Constitution provides for the protection of women, men and children from all forms of violence including harmful traditional practices. It provides for freedom from any form of violence either from public or private sources,” she said.

Other legal systems in place, the minister pointed out, include the Sexual Offences Act, the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act, and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act among other laws has boosted the campaign against sexual violence.

Sexual violence

She said in Kenya, statistics indicate that one in five Kenyan women has experienced sexual violence representing an increase of 5.1 per cent since 2003.

“Almost half (45 per cent) of women aged 15-49 have experienced one form of violence. And among children, a national survey of 2012 indicates that 32 per cent of females and 18 per cent of males have experienced sexual violence. Further, the national prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation stands at 27.1 per cent,” the Minister said.

Dr Shaban said there are other instrumental bills pending enactment which include: the Marriage Bill, the Matrimonial Property Bill and Prevention against Domestic Violence Bill.

She also briefed the 57th Session on CSW that various programmes to address sexual and gender based violence in the work place and in the public sector have been initiated.

Key among these are the setting up of help lines, shelters and rescue homes, gender based violence recovery one-stop-centres, legal aid clinics, psychosocial support services, rehabilitation and resettlement services as well as police gender desks.

“In addition, male involvement groups have been formed to champion the rights of women. Of significance is a million fathers' campaign launched in July 2012, as part of the UN Secretary-General’s Africa UNiTE Campaign to end violence against women and girls,” Dr Shaban said.

“The campaign’s major aim is to engage men in their various roles as fathers, brothers, husbands and friends as an advocacy tool to end gender-based violence in society.”

These, she said, would see cases of violence which occurs in the form of rape, defilement, commercial child sexual exploitation, domestic violence, sexual harassment as well as other traditional forms of violence like female genital mutilation, widow inheritance and early marriage reduce.