What you need to know:
- From March 13 to April 2, sexual offences constituted 35.8 per cent of cases recorded.
- Twitter discussion #KeepHerSafe organised to tackle role of men in mitigating GBV during Covid-19 period.
- COVAW calls for the listing of courts as essential service providers during partial lockdown.
Parents should teach sons about men’s responsibility in ending any form of violence against women.
Male lawyers challenged to offer pro-bono services to survivors and victims of GBV.
On April 2, Chief Justice David Maraga released a statement showing a rise in sexual offences since March 13, when Covid-19 was first confirmed in Kenya.
Maraga said sexual offences constituted 35.8 per cent of cases recorded since then. The cases have continued to rise significantly especially after the government’s announced the 7pm-5am curfew to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Majority of the victims of sexual and domestic violence are women and children, with men being the perpetrators.
It is against this background that Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW) organized a twitter discussion on the role of men in mitigating gender-based violence (GBV) during this Covid-19 period.
The debate under the hashtag #KeepHerSafe also attracted other organizations dealing with gender-related issues including Community Advocacy and Awareness (Crawn) Trust, Dada Power Initiative and Garden of Hope Foundation.
COVAW called on women to be in the forefront of breaking the cycle of violence by breaking the silence and standing against any abuse.
The organisation that noted men are powerful change agents, and have a responsibility to take lead and influence their peers in challenging stereotypes that normalise gender inequality.
It noted that while parenting, men should encourage boys to question gender roles and teach them to respect women and girls.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
“We call on men to challenge gender stereotypes during this stay at home period by, for instance, supporting women in some household tasks. Do not harm her, it is your responsibility to keep her safe during the stay at home period,” COVAW tweeted.
To accelerate access of justice for victims of GBV, the organisation called for the listing of court as essential service providers during this time of partial lockdown.
Women who contributed during the debate pressed on the need for men to take a leading role in the fight against GBV.
Hellen Kuria said men have a role as fathers, brothers and family advocates to amplify their voice against GBV.
“In a society that is highly patriarchal, men have a role in defying destructive stereotypes that perpetrate and normalise gender inequality,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Rosenell Nyakinyua who said the fight against GBV cannot be done by women alone and there is need for male involvement to keep women safe and eradicate the vice.
Maurine Khabuchi said involvement of young men can be a productive investment since they are more responsive to health information and to opportunities to view gender relations differently.
“Fathers can play an important role in teaching gender equality and respect to their children, thus breaking the cycles of violence”, said Kwaboka Oseko.
Wairimu Munyinyi challenged male lawyers to offer pro-bono services to survivors and victims and assist them get justice.
She proposed that government interventions on the vice should include spaces for men to lead on keeping women safe, so as to break the perception that it’s women’s problem.
“To doctors who handle GBV cases and may be required to give evidence in court, please facilitate justice for survivors,” she said.
Men who contributed to the debate supported calls for their involvement in the fight to end GBV.
Nahason Cheboi said men and boys are key change makers in the fight, noting that their voices are powerful, thus the need to have male champions against GBV.
“During this period of Covid-19 lockdown, we need to build harmonious families and our children on positive gender relations. Men and women, boys and girls have human rights to enjoy, away from stereotype cultural norms and values,” said Mr Cheboi.
Kariuki Muchemi said parenting is the primary area where people learn to be perpetrators/victims and, therefore parents need to have a collective duty to ensure they expose the learners to the best acceptable human conduct.
“The best approach must present a win-win situation for both men and women. We must co-exist in harmony. Blame games will only delay the victory against GBV,” he said.
Mr Muchemi rooted on the importance to bring the boy child on board in the awareness campaign, saying the earlier they grasp the ills of the vice, the better they are likely to be responsible men and future agents against it.
Victor Odhiambo proposed for men to consider volunteering with organisations working to end GBV to better understand the vice.
Jorum Kihumba called on the need to change the men narrative back to the default mode where men took up their role of protectors of women.
Dada Power Initiative observed that GBV is not just about physical violence, but includes verbal and emotional violence, which could cause psychological harm. Men can mitigate such by interrupting sexist/objectifying remarks about women.
CRAWN Trust opined on the need for parents to teach their sons about men’s responsibility in ending any form of violence against women. It also called for the need to strengthen our education curriculum to include ills against any form of GBV.
“Men need to stand up and speak out to intervene on potential harmful situations aimed at hurting women. They also need to act rather than watch GBV by taking a more pro-active role and become empowered bystanders to defend women and the girl child,” the organisation tweeted.