What you need to know:
- Sexual harassment is a crime even if it is happening at home, in the village or in a matatu.
- Sexual Offences Act, 2006, should give clarity on different forms of sexual harassment and penalties thereof.
- National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) should launch a mobile number through which the public can easily report such cases.
“Often, I am being hounded by touts when I am about to board a matatu. Some touch my shoulders, another one wants to touch my waist. It then becomes an issue when you tell them to stop. They hurl insults at you.”
This is Ms Faith Kasina’s experience of sexual harassment while using public transport. The resident of Kayole in Nairobi County, wants the government to enforce stringent measures to end the vice that is an everyday experience for most women using public transport.
She shared her experience in a pre-recorded video during a recent Facebook live discussion on ending sexual harassment in public transport. It was convened by Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association.
Lang’ata Member of Parliament Nixon Korir reiterated the criminal nature of sexual harassment which goes beyond the homes.
“Sexual harassment is a crime even if it is happening at home, in the village or in a matatu,” he said.
Mr Korir said sexual harassment is a manifestation of social cultural issues often putting women at a disadvantage.
“Women are being objectified. They are not seen as human beings …this is something that has to change,” he said.
He said amending Sexual Offences Act, 2006, should give clarity on different forms of sexual harassment and penalties thereof. It should also tighten how evidence is collected to facilitate successful prosecution of the cases, he said.
“As it is now, a victim has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that sexual harassment actually happened…but when you look at our systems, we might not have a lot of capacity in terms of tracking and storing evidence…someone can go to court and walk scot free, yet they have committed an offence,” he said.
He said formalisation of the public sector is crucial to ending sexual harassment in the sector.
This is because registration of public service vehicles in Saccos and having drivers and conductors dressed in uniforms with name tags, helps in identifying the culprit for prosecution.
He called on the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to launch a mobile number through which the public can easily report such cases.
Member of the Nairobi County Assembly for Umoja Ward Mark Mugambi, advocated for a national awareness campaign targeting the public and the public transport operators.
“The government should invest in a national campaign to create awareness on sexual harassment…first educate the crews…most of them don’t know that they are committing a crime,” he said.