Source: Capital News

With a few months to Kenya's general election, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are calling on authorities to be deliberate about taming cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

Such vices are said to drastically increase during the electioneering period, with women and girls being the most affected.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Kenya Forum Country Coordinator Florence Syevuo specifically urged County Governments to establish safe houses saying they will not only provide a lifeline for women survivors, but they can also play a key role in raising awareness of gender-based violence in the community.

"We already have safe houses in Makueni and Nairobi Counties," she said.

Syevuo further called for a multi-stakeholder approach in fighting gender-based violence, saying it will be more effective.

Kenyans and mostly the youth have also been challenged to play an active role in exposing the perpetrators of all forms of gender-based violence.

One such way, is through various stakeholders using online platforms like a Twitter Space hosted by the Sustainable Development Goals Kenya Forum (SDGs Kenya Forum) on Wednesday evening, participants were encouraged to embrace citizen journalism.

Citizen journalism is based upon public citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information."

Tana River County Government Director of Communications Steve Juma noted that, "citizen journalists have become regular contributors to mainstream news by providing information. If well sensitized, Kenyans can unite against this vice and expose those involved through citizen journalism."

Journalist Shukri Wachu challenged various stakeholders to also consider the plight of "the messenger", while coming up with ways to tame the vices.

"You would assume journalists are protected by a metal armor but that is not the case unfortunately. We have seen instances where the messenger is being targeted and it actually makes it very difficult for us to execute our core mandate which is reporting such cases in a bid to not only highlight these despicable actions meted on innocent Kenyans but also bringing a sense of accountability to those accused of perpetrating such vices," he said.

Moses Gowi, a Communications Assistant at the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), highlighted the outcome of a recently released on sexual violence as a political tool during elections in Kenya.

He pointed out that existing political tensions raise serious concerns over a possible escalation of violence in the run up and during the polls.

"It emphasizes that police forces have so far failed in their responsibility to conduct effective and credible investigations into the sexual violence committed during the 2017 elections and previous elections, leaving the vast majority of survivors with no access to justice," he said, while citing the report.

Any action intended to prevent, and combat election-related political violence, he said, must fully address the, "gender dimension of the violence in order to be effective."

The entry of Policare, an integrated response to sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya, to ensure that more people will easily access justice.

The multi-agency victim cantered 'one stop centre' service provider includes and not limited to police, forensic investigators, Health providers, Psychologists, DPP representative, a Magistrate on call, Medical-legal, Gender experts, Correctional personnel among others under all under one roof.

Policare's overall objective is to strengthen the capacity of the National Police Service (NPS) to prevent and respond to SGBV cases through establishment of a one stop victim support centre incorporating the synergy of multi agencies.

Policare centres are set to be staffed 24 hours a day and supported by toll-free service to reach to more survivors.

A policare centre has an interview room for women and children, a 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.

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