Fida to monitor polls in crackdown on SGBV

Federation of Women Lawyers-Kenya chairperson Nancy Ikinu and executive director Anne Ireri address journalists at Fida offices in Lavington, Nairobi, on August 3, 2022.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Federation establishes physical and online centres for ease of reporting and response, to complement toll-free line 0800720501.
  • The line has recorded over 5,000 sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases since its inception in April 2020.

The Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) Kenya has launched physical and online election observation centres days to the general election scheduled for Tuesday next week.

Fida-K chairperson Nancy Ikinu said the physical centre, located at their offices in Lavington, Nairobi, would provide psychosocial and legal support to women across the country.

She pointed out that it would also complement their toll-free line 0800720501, which has recorded over 5,000 sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases since its inception in April 2020.

Legal support

“We have 50 pro bono lawyers who will be on standby to offer female candidates the much-needed legal aid by undertaking disputes from the electoral process.

"Additionally, we are in partnership with 60 healthcare workers to assist in documenting and preserving evidence related to electoral, sexual and gender-based violence (ESGBV), which is critical during litigation.”

Ms Ikinu also noted that Fida-K had deployed 100 monitors in the 47 counties to track and issue periodic statements on the incidents that will be reported from the ground.

“We have trained these monitors to report, map and document SGBV cases against women aspirants, voters and supporters. They will feed in data real time on our reporting portal to ensure the authenticity and timely response to all arising matters,” she said.

This, she added, would be a continuation of the work of the monitors that has been running since April. Their preliminary findings confirmed that SGBV is still prevalent against women aspirants, voters and supporters.

As of June 30, there have been 744 cases of ESGBV. The top five counties with ESGBV cases are Siaya at 59, Kisumu and Nairobi at 40 each, and Kericho and Marsabit with 33 each. Lamu and Baringo had the least number of reported ESGBV with only two cases each.

Most common cases

Their findings also revealed that verbal abuse and hate speech were the most common type of ESGBV, with 416 cases reported. Cyberbullying was also rampant with 117 cases reported, while sexual harassment accounted for 40 incidents, assault 35 and sexual assault 14 cases.

Cultural events such as church gatherings and funerals and online meetings were isolated for their notoriety in spreading ESGBV. Official government functions and fundraisers recorded the least numbers.

Ms Ikinu called upon all political parties to adhere to the electoral code of conduct and participate constructively and peacefully in the entire electoral process.

She also urged Kenyans and all election stakeholders to remain peaceful and exercise political tolerance.