What you need to know:
- Activists and the devolved government have launched a campaign against sexual and gender-based violence in Taita Taveta County.
- Early this month, three women were sexually assaulted and killed while another was reportedly raped by her son in Wundanyi Sub-county.
Activists and the devolved government have launched a campaign against sexual and gender-based violence in Taita Taveta County.
The campaigns by rights groups and the County Department of Gender are as a result of increased cases of rape, defilement and killings of women in the region in recent months.
Ms Makrina Mwamburi, an official of Sauti ya Wanawake – a non-governmental organisation – said the drive would sensitise locals against remaining silent in the face of such attacks.
Early this month, three women were sexually assaulted and killed while another was reportedly raped by her son in Wundanyi Sub-county.
The assaults have sparked fear in women, even with the arrest of several people police say are connected to the gory crimes. .
Most of the attacks take place on farms, thickets or when the women and girls are on their way to water points.
Some happen in broad daylight, the activists say.
The sexual predators may be known to villagers but they are hardly reported to police.
“We have told those willing to report the attackers to police that their safety and that of their families is guaranteed. We don’t want to hear of a case of one getting killed or injured after making a statement to police,” she said during a gender working group meeting in Wundanyi.
Ms Mwamburi said her group is working with police, the Judiciary, the Taita Taveta devolved government and rights defenders to create awareness on gender violence and ensure the victims get justice.
County Gender Director Wallace Mwaluma said the working group targets the family and community structures to end rape, defilement, and other forms of violence against women and girls.
Mr Mwaluma said the group has conducted similar meetings in Taveta, Voi and Mwatate.
“During the forums, we educate the community on gender violence and encourage locals to report perpetrators to police and the relevant authorities. We ask the participants to take the message to other villages,” he said.
Mr Mwaluma blamed the increased cases of sexual attacks on drug and substance abuse, grinding poverty, entrenched patriarchy and threats to victims and locals by those committing the crimes.
“We have started economic empowerment programmes targeting vulnerable families to address some of these challenges,” he said.
Taita Taveta is listed among counties with the highest number of cases of violence against women and girls in Kenya.
The gender group says it is creating a tool to address the problem.
The tool will record the number of incidents and help stakeholders devise solutions.
A police post has already been built in Lushangonyi. The station is expected to be gazetted by the government soon.
Wundanyi MP Danson Mwashako said crime has increased in his constituency and called for more security officials to be posted there.
“Once the station is gazetted, we expect the government to send officers,” he told the Nation by phone.
During the meeting, villagers said they hoped the recent murders would be the last reported in the area.
“We are concerned about our safety. Women and girls are afraid of walking alone even during the day,” Mrs Irene Wawuda, a Wundanyi resident, told the meeting.
Wundanyi Directorate of Criminal Investigation boss Richard Cheruiyot said detectives are still looking for a man who said to have killed his wife in Mbale.
Addressing journalists at Wundanyi Police Station, Mr Cheruiyot said the man could have fled to Tanzania.
“The other cases are ongoing,” he said.