LESSONS FROM RWANDA ON GBV LAWS IMPLEMENTATION

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meshack yobby posted this 12 December 2014

Kenya has a wonderfully crafted Sexual Offences Act, but eight years later, its implementation is falling apart despite the presence of a myriad of women’s rights organizations. There is a lot of awareness amongst women about their rights, but men -who incidentally perpetrate most gender based violent crimes- are in the dark.

That is where we are wrong. GBV crimes cannot be fought in the boardrooms, or in forums in which majority of attendees are women. The forums are great for making people aware of their rights and what to do in case they are violated, but unless the perpetrators are engaged, women are still at risk.

We cannot raise awareness through golf tournaments; the men who strip women in public do now enjoy golf. They are people who walk from town to Safaricom Stadium Kasarani or Nyayo National Stadium to watch soccer matches and attend reggae concerts. They are people who sit on stones in town chewing miraa and sometimes overcome their idleness to call passengers to matatus. They are cart pushers and touts in Muthurwa high on cheap alcohol and drugs. They live in informal settlements and sleep in bars. They live from hand to mouth, with no sense of purpose, so anything out of the ordinary, anything perverse, dangerous or even slightly criminal instantly rouse their excitement. They do not know the law. They find comfort and strength in congregating with other men in their circumstance.

These are the people we must reach. If we do not consistently bombard them with the message that women must be respected, and gender based violence –including stripping women naked- is contravention of the Constitution and can attract a prison term of a minimum ten years, then we are preaching to the choir. It cannot be a one-day forum. The message has to be constant through use of radio, which is popular among them, newspapers, posters and leaflets.

The approach towards GBV prevention must target men, and must empower women to speak out and defend their own when they witness GBV.

**The Police

Rwanda National Police and Defence Force undergo special training on GBV prevention and protection.**

In August 2014, the Rwanda National Police held a month-long campaign against gender violence.

In Kenya, an Administration Police officer was arrested while trying to strip an underage girl in a public service vehicle. Another Administration Police encouraged on social media the violation of women, and was reported to the Independent Police Oversight Authority. It is not clear what action IPOA has taken against the two officers. The Kenya Police Service has a reputation for being insensitive to gender based violence cases, often urge the survivors to settle the dispute outside court. The result is that survivors have no faith that the police will make proper investigations and arrests if GBV cases are reported. The campaigns to have a proper Gender Crimes Unit (as opposed to the current gender desks, which are not in every police station, anyway) have not borne any fruit. It is only recently that the outrage over the public stripping and molestation of women that the Anti-Stripping Squad was formed to target the perpetrators. Kenya urgently needs an Anti- Sexual Gender Based Violence Directorate in the Kenya Police Service.

Still, given the public support of the stripping by a few officers that are supposed to protect the citizens, the Kenya Police Service needs to be specially trained on GBV prevention and protection, and to institute awareness campaigns like marches, CSR days and camps so that the public gets confidence in the officers. There should be also sting operations every month with female police officers dressed in casual clothes to sniff out sex pests.

**Community level

Anti-GBV committees were established at the grassroots level in all Districts.**

Establishment of anti-GBV committees in each location will help monitor perpetrators. They can headed by the area chief assisted by village elders and a paralegal. The committee can be responsible for awareness at the village level and activism against GBV, as well as community policing. In turn, these committees can be answerable to sub-county or county anti-GBV committees headed by county commissioners.

Tangential to that, the Matatu Owners Association should ensure that only their crew in uniform tout. If they require touts at their termini, then these touts should be in uniform and answerable to the SACCOS.The infamous Umoinner Sacco is actually very organized. No one touts at their terminus without a reflective coat with Umoinner branding. Even within Unoja estate, you will find supervisors at various stages in Umoinner overalls. If Umoinner can do it, why not other Saccos? The same happens with Double M Services. It is practical, it is applicable. We have been blaming touts; perhaps we should try involving MOA and MWA in the security of their termini.

Matatu Saccos need to empower their crew to stop sex offences that happen at their termini. They have the numbers; they can help.

**Education

Anti-GBV clubs were established in all schools.**

That sexual gender based violence is a crime should be indoctrinated into the population from the earliest age possible. There is a running theory that men who perpetrate SGBV have no father figures, or have grown up knowing that GBV is acceptable. The establishment of anti-GBV clubs, whose activeness should be ensured through debates, community service, competitions and awards will go a long way in making sure that future generations respect gender rights.

The Government could make it compulsory, or non-profit organizations can champion this.

**Judiciary

Each District has an Access to Justice Office with three staff, one of whom is specifically dedicated to fighting against GB.**

This, if replicated in Kenya, will ensure that survivors get legal aid, as well as ensuring that their cases reach the court. Of course, the Office of the Judiciary Ombudsman would have to be active to ensure integrity and intolerance to corruption.

In March of 2012, a sex offenders registry of convicted sex offenders was launched. It was to be maintained by the Registrar of the High Court, but the database is not online.

If possible, there should be established a Gender Crimes court, just as the Children’s Court exists.

**One Stop Centre

At the Isange Centre, which provides 24-hour service, seven days per week, staff available include "one coordinator, nine psychologists, one gynaecologist, six social workers, three medical doctors with medical forensic expertise, four general practitioners, one psychiatric nurse, and one police officer. Additionally the RNP is compelled to investigate all forms of violence and abuse, which essentially gives the victim no choice but to report their case to police if they desire services at the IOSC.**

In Kenya, One Stop Centres were established in district hospitals, but over time, they have been closed down due to funding issues. A case in point is at the Coast General Hospital. This means that increasingly, GBV survivors have had no place to seek refuge other than community based organizations. Right now, some non-profit organizations are reopening the One Stop Centres established by the Government. But this is not a permanent solution as they depend on donor funding.

Awards

At the end of each year, there should be established awards for the safest county for women in Kenya, as a motivation towards active participation in anti-GBV campaigns. The awards should also include organizations and individuals who are doing outstanding work in addressing cultural values and GBV-prevention in the community

As things are, the more different women’s rights organizations continue to operate separately, tackling different issues without a central guiding policy, we will continue making strides in making women aware of their rights, but little progress in addressing the perpetrators. Rwanda has a Gender Monitoring Office, which is thoroughly efficient. In Kenya, the National Gender and Equality Commission is more concerned with gender mainstreaming than anything else. When the recent spate of public molestation of women started, there was no particular organization that was at the forefront of fighting against it. Members of Kilimani Mums Nairobi were desperate for backing from leaders, quickly grasping at every word uttered. It was a sorry state.

All non-profit organizations and government departments dealing with women’s rights need to come together and be a forceful lobby for implementation of the Sexual Offences Act 2006. Unless the man in informal settlements and street corners is reached, this fight is redundant.

Last edited 12 December 2014

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admin posted this 14 December 2014

Thank you for your insights on how Kenya as a country could progress further in the elimination of gender based violence. The National Gender and Equality commission though not an implementer is charged under the NGEC Act 2011 with the mandate to promote gender equality and freedom from discrimination for its target groups i.e.: women, youth and children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, minorities, and marginalized groups. In line with this, the NGEC is responsible for monitoring,coordinating, facilitating, and advising on the implementation of various international and regional commitments on the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) which affects the rights of women and children, namely the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights- on the Rights of Women in Africa.

The NGEC has a three-year strategic plan, with one of the key strategic objectives being to provide comprehensive and adequate response to Sexual and Gender- Based Violence (SGBV). The NGEC has various initiatives as regards GBV namely: coordination of the monthly National GBV Working group Meetings (consists of state and non state actors) and this online interactive site that aims to provide a platform to discuss on issues on GBV.

The NGEC and members of the National GBV Working Group have been instrumental in the annual commemorating the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence. Last year, we launched and commemorated the 16 days of activism against gender based violence in line with the national theme which was ‘working with the police to end gender based violence’. In attendance we had the Inspector General of Police, who pledged his commitment to fight GBV in Kenya. The NGEC on behalf of the National GBV Working group submitted a memorandum to the Inspector General in which we requested the Police to undertake the following: - Firstly, establish a Gender Crimes Unit with a dedicated team of specialised officers and with the mandate to address crimes that fall under the ambit of the Enactment of the Sexual Offences Act 2006, the Prohibition of FGM Act of 2011 and related laws; - Secondly, to provide separate special spaces for survivors of GBV with facilities to allow for the confidential collection of testimonies and evidence within all police stations, and specialised staff to support survivors; - Finally we requested the police to have a ‘no-tolerance’ policy for the mis-handling of survivors and to ensure they are fully facilitated with Post Rape Care and P3 forms.

We acknowledge our country has faced various challenges in the prevention and response of GBV. Some of the challenges faced are:

  • Lack of full realisation of the legal framework that exists e.g. Sexual Offences Act (2006) and the Prohibition against FGM Act that was enacted in 2011. We now have a fully constituted Anti- FGM Board under the leadership of Hon. Lina Jebii Kilimo which is a success that cannot go unmentioned;
  • Inadequate facilitation of survivors by police due to lack of vehicles and facilities at stations;
  • A further challenge with the police force in combating GBV is lack of specially trained staff to support comprehensive collection of evidence and support survivors in the reporting process;
  • In addition to this, lack of rescue centres or temporary shelters at police stations;
  • Corruption is a serious challenge that has impacted upon the use of the P3 and PRC forms. The NGEC has been instrumental in this regard as it wrote an advisory to the Ministry of Health to ensure the adequate distribution of the PRC forms in each health facility in Kenya;
  • Finally a challenge still exists in the lack of facilitation of survivors in the pursuit of justice, through the collection and maintenance of the integrity of forensic samples during court processes. The NGEC has assisted in this regard as it works closely with the police and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure fast tracking of cases of defilement e.g. Liz case in Busia, but challenges however still persist.

On 10th December 2014 the NGEC together with members of the working group launched the 'KEEPING THE PROMISE TO END GBV CAMPAIGN'. This is a 3 year campaign with the overarching goal being reduction of GBV through development and implementation of effective and efficient prevention and response strategies. The working group felt that there is a need to bridge the gap and create awareness about GBV and the legislations that exist, and the collective responsibility of each duty bearer towards GBV. Thus the birth of the ‘Keeping the promise’ National GBV Campaign that will address GBV and hold the various sectors accountable in provision of GBV services.

The campaign strategy is implementation in 3 phases, with the first year purposing to hold duty bearers (executive, judiciary, legislature and county governments) to account; the second year will be a survivor based approach and finally the third year being an election year, we shall aim to train and develop an advocacy strategy on SGBV in emergencies.

In this first year we hope to visit each and every county in an effort to conduct accountability forums in order to establish the mechanisms that exist with respect to the various duty holders, we agree that change cannot happen in boardrooms thus the need to go out into the counties. The campaign will seek to train the various duty bearers on their roles towards the prevention and response to GBV.

The objectives of the campaign will be:

  • To strengthen action and accountability by state and non- state actors on their mandate in relation to GBV work;
  • To profile the achievements, opportunities, challenges, emerging trends and gaps pertaining to GBV work in Kenya;
  • To strengthen implementation of the various policies and legislations on GBV in Kenya through dissemination and awareness creation;
  • To identify and strengthen opportunities for cross-sectoral synergies in the prevention and response to GBV;
  • To assess and strengthen existing policy, legal and service delivery infrastructure for the prevention and response to GBV in emergencies;
  • To engage communities focusing on men, boys, women and girls in negating the culture of normalization and acceptance of GBV.

The theme of the campaign is to ‘Prevent GBV, Protect survivors and Respond’. And the tag line for the campaign is ‘I can, you can, together we can end GBV’.

Also launched by the NGEC on 10th December 2014 was the National Monitoring and Evaluation framework on sexual violence. The framework will seek to address some of the challenges faced when it comes to data collection on sexual violence. The notable challenges and gaps in frequency of reporting and availability of essential data for evidence-based programming and decision making can be mainly attributed to underlying structural factors and lack of a comprehensive SGBV monitoring and evaluation framework.

The NGEC has the key function to provide the oversight role by monitoring, facilitating,coordinating and advising on the integration of the principles of equality and freedom from discrimination in all national and county policies, laws, and administrative regulations in all public and private institutions under the NGEC Act 2011. This framework provides the following:
• Mechanism for monitoring progress of response and prevention management programmes • Systematic mechanism for coordination on sexual gender response and prevention mechanism • Facilitate availability of credible and reliable data for policy and programme decision • Facilitate timely submission of data for routine, periodic reporting for stakeholders consumption and international reporting.

We agree with your comment that if we do not come together our fight is redundant, we appeal to you to come join us as member of the working group and other like minded institutions as we collectively eliminate GBV in Kenya.

I can,you can together we can end GBV!!

Last edited 14 December 2014


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