OPINION: Let us fight COVID-19, not humans beings

Officers who operate the Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) hotline 1195. PHOTO | COURTESY
Officers who operate the Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) hotline 1195. PHOTO | COURTESY

By Alvin Mwangi

Labour Protection and Gender CS Margaret Kobia released a study which shows that in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, 5009 cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) were reported through the national toll-free helpline.

This was an increase of 36percent in 2020 and most alarming was the 92percent increase between January and June that year.

GBV and domestic conflicts reduce bargaining power to negotiate for safer sex, stay on treatment or remain in school. Many survivors remain helpless in such situations.

According to the study, the most common types of GBV cases were physical assault, rape/attempted rape, murder, sexual offenses, defilement, grievous harm, physical abuse, child marriages, psychological torture and child neglect.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these cases with girls and women affected the most as they find themselves locked up with perpetrators in their communities.

GBV is deeply rooted in gender inequality and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies.

Women and girls are killed and more often than not, the perpetrator is known to them.

We have an opportunity to make a difference for the better and everyone of us has a role to play. Let us stop the violence and instead fight COVID-19.

I urge the following gate keepers to continue with the following steps to ensure that we all live in a violence-free society:

  • The Gender Ministry should continue to create awareness about the toll free line — 1195 — with countrywide campaigns and encourage people to report GBV cases.
  • The Ministry of Interior and Coordination through the national police should continue arrest all perpetrators and follow up with prosecutors so victims and survivors get justice.
  • The Ministry of Health should continue to offer services such as psycho-social support to all victims and survivors of GBV.
  • The government should continue to offer financial support to poverty-stricken families that are at risk of experiencing GBV.
  • We should all shun retrogressive cultural beliefs and practices that contribute to GBV, speak up more for establishment of safe houses for victims and survivors of SGBV.

GBV is a serious yet preventable social and health problem which can be avoided. The Government should protect our girls, boys, men and women by effecting arrests and conducting proper investigations and prosecutions so that the perpetrators are brought to book.

Alvin Mwangi is a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights advocate at Network of Adolescents and Youth of Africa (NAYA Kenya)
Twitter: @alvinmwangi254

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