Shelter to boost war against gender violence in Vihiga

A section of the newly built Vihiga GBV and rescue centre. The first phase of the Sh5.7 million project is complete, awaiting operationalisation.

Photo credit: Derick Luvega | Nation Media Group.

Vihiga County will no longer rely on protection homes in neighbouring counties, after the first phase of a Sh5.7 million shelter for victims of gender-based violence was completed.

The facility was set up with money from the National Government Affirmative Action Fund.

It will start housing victims of violence, incest, rape and defilement, crimes that have been on the rise in the region.

Courts in the county had called for such a facility to be set up, saying it would bolster victims’ search for justice.

Woman Rep Beatrice Adagala, under whose administration the facility was set up, said it will serve as a home for gender violence victims.

The centre is at Vokoli, off the Chavakali-Kapsabet road. Mrs Adagala said it will protect girls and help them get justice.

"No more of our girls will be taken to other counties in search of protection homes. The facility will also help create job opportunities and locals will supply foodstuffs to the centre," she said, adding that it will start operating "soon".

In the middle of last year, Vihiga Principal Magistrate Samson Ongeri called for such a facility to be established, saying courts in the county were grappling with over 156 defilement and rape cases.

Aborted justice

He said most cases of that kind did not get to full trial due to intimidation and lack of witness protection.

Mr Ongeri said a rescue centre would be a safe haven for victims of gender-based violence.

Mrs Adagala said the facility, which sits on two acres, will also be a witness protection centre.

Mrs Adagala said the idea for it came when leaders and residents were jolted by increasing cases of social ills and a lack of places to house victims.

Vihiga sent such victims to Kisumu and Kakamega counties, thus increasing turnaround time in litigating cases.

Construction began in July 2020. It will house offices, washrooms, dormitories and an ICT centre.

It also has a training hall where victims of violence will learn technical skills during rehabilitation.

"There are many cases of violence and abuse of minors, both boys and girls. We even have adults who are being abused. This centre will serve as their home," Mrs Adagala said.

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