Skip to main content

By Benta Moige

It has been 35 days since the streets of Kenya were flooded with the powerful voices of thousands of women demanding an end to the relentless targeting and killing of women. The ‘End Femicide Kenya’ march aimed to draw attention to the urgent need for government intervention in the face of rising gender-based violence. However, the question lingers – why hasn’t there been decisive action to protect the lives and rights of women?

As someone deeply involved in advocating for women’s safety, I’ve had the chance to interact with the existing structures designed to ensure the well-being of women and girls. Here are my reflections on some critical aspects:

Legislation and Policy:

The Constitution’s framers were deliberate in creating positions for women representatives, not only to bridge the gender gap but also to advocate for women’s rights. However, the echoing silence from these offices leaves us questioning their effectiveness in addressing the urgent needs of the women of Kenya.

Gender Desks at Police Stations:

Despite the inclusion of gender desks in police stations, the lack of resources for these desks hampers their functionality. A genuine assessment of the required resources, including budgets for training and equipping police stations, is crucial to effectively handle cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

I recall visiting a police station in South Nyanza with a fully equipped dormitory for SGBV survivors, but it remained closed due to staffing issues, highlighting the need for comprehensive solutions.

Medical Personnel at SGBV Centers:

While some hospitals offer free services for SGBV survivors, the reality can be different. A recent incident I was part of revealed that despite having gender departments in hospitals which are supposed to be free and easily accessible, some medical personnel demanded for payment for their services’.

Gender Violence Emergency Line:

The effectiveness of emergency response systems also comes into question. A distressing conversation with the gender violence emergency line revealed a lack of understanding and empathy. The operator’s response, insisting on reporting the incident at the location of occurrence, raises concerns about the adequacy of training for those handling such crucial calls.

In conclusion, it is evident that there is a pressing need for a comprehensive system overhaul. The march may have brought attention to the issue, but tangible and immediate actions from the government are imperative. The experiences shared highlight the gaps in the existing structures meant to protect women, emphasizing the urgency for change. The women of Kenya deserve more than rhetoric – they deserve a commitment to real and effective solutions. It is time for a collective effort to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of all women and girls in Kenya.

Benta Moige is Amnesty International Kenya Researcher and writes in her personal capacity. Email: [email protected]

Leave a Reply