What you need to know:
- Human Rights Watch says the government has to build a concrete rights-based framework to anticipate future emergency-related SGBV.
- Movement restrictions and dusk-to-dawn curfews in 2020 led to a 42 per cent increase in SGBV incidents.
The government failed to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the past year despite a spike in the crimes, Human Rights Watch says in its annual review of human rights.
In its world report 2022, the watchdog says Kenya did not prevent and counter violence; neither did it provide redress during crises and humanitarian disasters.
For its laxity to “properly investigate and prosecute cases”, as well as “ensure survivors have access to timely medical treatment, psychosocial care, protection services, and financial assistance,” President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration blatantly fall short of fulfilling its own commitments to safeguarding women and girls’ rights.
To right the wrongs, the government has to build a concrete rights-based framework to anticipate future emergency-related SGBV, it says.
In 2020, a global gender response tracker by United Nations Development Programme found Kenya to have performed poorly in effecting gender-sensitive policies relating to social protection, violence against women, economic and fiscal and labour market, including unpaid care.
Only three out of the nine measures taken by the government were gender-sensitive and were limited to social protection and mitigating violence against women.
Movement restrictions and dusk-to-dawn curfews in 2020 led to a 42 per cent increase in SGBV incidents.
A call by a coalition of women rights organisations to have a 30 per cent allocation of Covid-19 funds to SGBV response went unanswered.
More than 25 hotlines were, however, either established or activated to respond to the needs of the victims. While shelters were forced to exceed their accommodation capacity.
To fill the gap, non-governmental organisations came up with cash transfer programmes as a social safety measure to enable survivors to rebuild their lives.
President Kenyatta’s commitment to investing $23 million for SGBV prevention and response by this year, besides developing an SGBV management and information system, awakens hope for end of violence against women and girls.
Last year, during the launch of Human Rights Scorecard, activists decried a “super slow” pace in the implementation of policies on women’s rights.
“There is a lot of work to be done by the government, civil society and development partners to ensure effective implementation of policies… but the burden of responsibility falls with the government,” said African Gender and Media Initiative executive director Gladys Kiio, during the event at a Nairobi hotel.