As one of the counties experiencing increased cases of sexual Gender based violence (SGBV), Kisumu County is now blazing the trail in the fight against the crime.
In a new strategy meant to tame the perpetrators and ensure and ensure Justice to victims, the county, national government and non-state actors have launched a joint initiative to train law enforcers on how to fight the vice.
The training targets the police, chiefs and their assistants who come face to face with the suspects both in urban and rural areas.
In the wake of the Corona virus pandemic and as schools and more economic activities remain crippled, women and girls have continued to be dis-proportionally affected. As reports indicate, 53% of women and girls between 15 and 49 years of age from the Nyanza region have experienced violence.
As a result, the training of the state officers resonates with the working experience that the participants are usually the first point of contact for SGBV survivors in Kisumu.
It is in this view that the County government of Kisumu and Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET) in partnership with Equality Now convened a 2- day sensitization workshop for the police and another 2 days for the Chiefs on their role in ensuring access to justice for victims and survivors of SGBV. The training aimed at equipping the officers to effectively and efficiently deal with SGBV issues through survivor-centered approach.
The workshop was officially opened by Kisumu central sub-county police commandant, Mr. Peter Katam, who challenged the duty bearers and the first point of contact for survivors of the SGBV, urging them to be agents of change. The OCPD noted that effective response and prevention of SGBV requires attitudinal shifts, encouraging t the police officers attached to gender desks for their continuous support rendered to SGBV survivors.
The County officer in charge of Gender, Mrs. Adah Omedi called upon participants to join hands with civil society, state and non-state organizations including, NGEC, KMET and Equality Now in strengthening mass community awareness campaigns through community policing and other community-led initiatives on SGBV prevention and response. She reaffirmed that police officers and the local chiefs are well placed to provide tailored awareness to community members on techniques to reduce incidents of SGBV.
As Kisumu continues to profile cases of SGBV, it was sensible to conduct the sensitization to strengthen response and to understand how best to respond in accordance with relevant County, national and international legislation governing SGBV.
Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights abuse in the world, affecting every community. Hence, sensitization is a key development that signals the importance of close and practical partnerships with key duty bearers set to create a deeper and more sustainable impact on responding to and creating a violence-free society.
Acknowledging that there are huge prevention and response challenges including structural, legal and best practices gaps that require collective and cross-sectorial collaboration, the KMET SGBV Advocacy and Policy lead, Patricia Orawo, encouraged the participants to model the guiding principles when working with survivors/victims and alleged perpetrators, noting that participants enrich the justice process through conducting professional investigations.
The workshop drew participants from Kisumu Central, Kisumu West and Kisumu East Sub counties, who included officers attached to the gender desk and the local village administrators. The officers were reminded that responding to incidents of SGBV requires timely and professional medical and psycho-social intervention including referrals. For the medical intervention, the team was advised that health workers are crucial in treating victims/survivors, providing evidence for court prosecution and promoting access to justice for survivors. The Medical services for female or male survivors include access and provision of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and emergency contraceptives.
Beyond support to the survivors, the participants were also urged to accompany survivors to the health facility wherever possible, to build trust and ensure timely and non-corruptible evidence generation for the prosecution.
Being cognizant of the logistical and financial challenges associated with access and provision of medical services to the survivors, the two teams concluded the training with the way forward set to strengthen girls mentor-ship programs, strengthen partnership with other stakeholders and other operating partners working on SGBV, to realize the target set by the SDG 5 of eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls worldwide.
By Matilda Atieno