‘Policare’ centres, a beacon of hope for SGBV survivors
What you need to know:
- Currently, two Policare centres have been set up in Nairobi and Makueni counties with a plan to establish more across the country.
- With Policare, a report is filed in one place where it can be accessed by all relevant institutions.
Most victims and survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) often blame the police for conducting shoddy investigations impeding their quest for justice.
As a result, many perpetrators of sexual violence go scot-free after being acquitted by courts for lack of evidence.
For a long time, survivors of SGBV and gender activists have been pushing for a one-stop centre to enhance reporting, evidence collection and accountability in sexual related cases.
During a webinar titled Prosecution of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Kenya organised by International Commission of Jurist (ICJ Kenya) 53-year-old SGBV survivor Jacqueline Mutere said the one-stop centres is the only way to ensure proper reporting and collection of evidence in sexual violence related cases.
She also rooted for the establishment of special courts for sexual violence cases just like there are special Lands and Corruption courts to ensure victims get prompt justice.
The campaign by the sexual violence victims and gender activists recently bore fruit after the Kenya National Police Service launched ‘Policare’ which is a one-stop SGBV center model established to ensure survivors of sexual violence can access counselling, medical and legal services from one place.
Currently, two Policare centres have been set up in Nairobi and Makueni counties with a plan to establish more across the country.
This integrated approach, launched in August to handle SGBV cases is expected to encourage victims to report.
Currently, victims have to visit different institutions in the pursuit of justice which means they have to retell their trauma stories several time.
With Policare, a report is filed in one place where it can be accessed by all relevant institutions.
The model unit by the National Police Service (NPS) is designed to host all professionals involved in delivering justice to offenders while preserving the dignity of the victims plus the evidence they produce is expected to replace gender desks present in all stations.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Edward Mbugua noted that the Policare model will be more of a system than a single physical identity intended to meet the dual objectives of improving care and support for survivors and increasing prosecution of the perpetrators.
Complete with a 24-hour toll-free service for victims, Policare will host victims' interview rooms for women and children, crime records room, a triage, forensic evidence storage room, trauma centres, a room for medical examination and P3 issuance and male and female holding cells.
Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia last week while speaking in relation to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence termed the launch of the Policare as timely.
“I commend the National Police Service for this innovative approach to handling SGBV,” she said.
High Court Judge Teresia Matheka recently observed survivors have high expectations on the Judiciary to dispense justice therefore, convictions are secured as a result of good investigations and strong evidence which she said sometimes lack when it comes to such cases.