Gender Based Violence, Communities role and Policy changes: The Nexus
“UNiTE invest to prevent Violence against Women & Girls”
This was the theme in 2023 for the #16DaysOfActivismAgainstGBV .
In the community led dialogue forums facilitated by MIDRIFT HURINET with an aim of discussing collaborative efforts in addressing Gender Based Violence within local communities in Nakuru County, local activists agreed on the need to have concerted efforts towards Power Imbalance in relationships.
Economic empowerment as the ultimate solution, has its own challenges which precedes normalized cultural and patriarchal stereotypes that hinder the independence of women socially and politically.
The available Government empowerment initiatives are hidden in processes and procedures which take time and do not solve the immediate needs.
Others are in form of handouts from some leaders which too are not regulated and are meant to serve the interests of the giver and not that of the recipients.
It was agreed that there is need to change policies towards Economic Empowerment initiatives targeting women with a clear database to form the baseline aspect of it.
Local activists also sanctioned for more legislation, policy changes and budget allocations through Public Participation forums in empowering communities to reduce cases of Gender Based Violence brought by economic and social factors.
But is it possible to empower Girls and leave out Boys?
What’s the role of men in addressing power imbalance in relationships?
One of the “Boychild activist” present gave an overview of the teachings and knowledge they have been sharing with boys from an early age.
He said, at some point society forgot about the welfare of the Boys as they were deemed to be already empowered and concentrated with the Girls.
“The welfare of the boychild deteriorated as the society focused on girls. Boys are the perpetrators of Gender Based Violence since they do not know types and forms of sexual situations.
Most of them have been incarcerated due to these and I undertook a personal initiative to educate them and make them aware of the repercussions in the criminal justice system” he said.
“We have seen changes. Boys in our community now understand and know the types Gender Based Violence, how they can use their voices to address them and their role in making our society to be a safe space. he added
On empowerment, it was generally agreed that, Girls cannot be empowered at the expense of Boys.
All must grow and develop simultaneously, but in this process, the girl was left behind due to different community practices and systemic challenges.
Human Rights Defenders and local paralegal fraternity committed on sensitizing the community about the effects of Gender Based Violence and the connection with various empowerment initiatives being undertaken while also leveraging on the anonymous reporting platform, Mulika Uhalifu 988, which is a safe platform that guarantees confidentiality.
Due to fear, survivors not sure where to report to and uncertainty from survivors on the outcome of the cases ,most situations go unreported which limits the rights of the survivors.
Chiefs and other National Government Administrative officers have a role to play in addressing cases of Gender Based Violence.
Due to their networks at the Community level, information concerning GBV related cases is brought to their attention and they are required to ensure Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism and Alternative Justice system are not used to solve the situations.
They should advocate for full Judicial process to deter other would-be offenders, which also act as part of the lessons in sensitization forums.
Their Baraza’s are also important platforms that can be used to educate the community of the dangers of Gender Based Violence and reinforcing it with GBV Community Champions.
In addressing GBV, two groups cannot be ignored.
Community Health Promoters, who link the survivors to medical care, and Police Officers who link the perpetrators with the Judicial System.
While issues such as conditions around Gender desks for the Police officers and those seeking services for survivors at the desk need to be addressed ,MIDRIFT HURINET though support from DIGNITY will continue building Community resilience through training ,advocacy and providing institutional support to agencies on Community access to Mental Health & Psycho-social Support (MHPSS) Services and an increased knowledge of Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Services case referral pathways and intersectoral collaboration on referrals in Nakuru County.
by Jack Karani