HRW criticizes Kenya’s response to increase in gender-based violence | Coronavirus pandemic News


Kenya has not provided support amid an outbreak of violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic, HRW said.

Human Rights Watch has denounced the Kenyan government’s response to an increase in gender-based violence (GBV) that has taken place throughout the coronavirus pandemic, particularly during times of lockdown.

In a new report released on Tuesday, the US-based advocacy group claimed the government had failed to ensure that health, economic and social support services were available to women despite restrictions that have affected their mobility.

In doing so, HRW said the Kenyan government has in fact facilitated an increase in gender-based violence. The report says there was a staggering 301% increase in calls reporting violence against women and girls in the first two weeks of the lockdown between March and April 2020.

While previous studies have shown that cases of GBV increase during health emergencies, the Kenyan government should have “expected and planned for a similar rise during the COVID-19 health emergency,” HRW said.

Other research on sexual violence and GBV has also shown that Kenya’s current government structures and policies are “inadequate to respond effectively to violence against women and girls” during such emergencies, he added.

The report is based on 26 interviews conducted between June 2020 and February 2021 – of which 13 were survivors of GBV.

The group documented various forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual abuse, beatings, being kicked out of the home, being forced into marriage and undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM). .

According to the report, many abuses occurred “at home” and the perpetrators were “close family members, including husbands, but other abuses occurred in communities perpetuated by neighbors”.

Girls interviewed said they suffered continued sexual harassment from men in their communities, some of whom “lured” them with gifts of food or sanitary napkins.

In one case, Juliet, a 16-year-old girl living in an informal settlement in Nairobi, was held captive for four days by a man who sexually assaulted her, HRW said. She was eventually rescued by neighbors and treated in a safe house in Nairobi.

Although there are already high levels of violence, there is a “clear trend” for increasing violence against women and girls in Kenya, HRW said.

Kenyan police and other state security agents have been the “main perpetrators” of serious human rights violations and have been implicated in numerous cases of “rape and other sexual violence against women and girls, and men and boys, especially in times of crisis, ”the group said.

Although very few of them have been brought to justice, HRW’s findings indicate that police officers routinely request bribes to carry out basic job duties.

HRW’s findings also indicate that despite the establishment of gender desks in police stations, officers have “stigmatized” GBV survivors and lack adequate training to deal with such cases – preventing victims from seeking justice.

In its report, HRW called on the Kenyan government to “prevent, combat and remedy” violence against women and girls, including in times of crisis.


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