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Gender-based violence is understood, explained, or justified in terms of gender roles, gender differences, or gender inequality. It is a human right violation that predominately affects women and girls due to systemic and structural inequality. It includes physical, sexual, mental, economic, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual exploitation, forced pregnancies, and forced motherhood. Violence against women occurs in every segment of society, it doesn’t matter what class you are (upper, middle, lower), ethnicity (Black, White or Asian), culture (African, American, German), or country (Kenya, Ghana, Europe, United States).

World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that worldwide one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. While in Kenya Gender Violence Recovery center reports that 39% and 47% of Kenyan women experience GBV in their lifetime among the highest rates in the world. Kenya has also expanded its definition to include men and boys, they have also gone ahead and revised the Sexual Offence Act No. 3 which recognizes males as victims of GBV.

Across the world, governments are failing to fulfill their obligation to protect victims, make criminal justice systems victim-friendly and accessible, and prosecute and punish perpetrators. The government has also failed to address sex-discriminatory laws, and policies that reinforce sex discrimination, social norms, and attitude that render sexual violence look like its stronger.

Survivors of gender-based violence suffer devastating short and long-term consequences to their physical and mental health as well as to their personal and social well-being. Health consequences of gender-based violence include injuries, pregnancy complications, sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, fistula, genital injuries, and chronic conditions. Mental health impacts for survivors include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, substance misuse, self-harm, suicidal behavior, and sleep disturbance. In addition, a survivor of GBV may also face stigma and rejection from her community and family. Some survivors are forced to marry their perpetrators; others face retaliation for reporting their experience or seeking support- including at the hand of family members. At its worst, these survivors can result in killing themselves.

There are so many institutions that have come out to support the stopping of gender-based violence, UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Funds) is working worldwide to prevent and respond to GBV cases, it provides survivors with clinical health services, dignity kits, psychosocial support and safe spaces they need to access care and protection. The Kenyan government under the ministry of public service and gender has put in place strategies for effective policy implementation, a few of which are already in place;

  • To reduce GBV prevalence through the enforcement of laws and policies
  • To increase access to quality and comprehensive responsive and support service across all sectors
  • To increase access to quality and comprehensive responsive support services across all sectors
  • To enhance coordination, evidence-based research, and monitoring and evaluation for effective programming
  • To enhance resource mobilization towards sustainable GBV response and prevention programs

You can always seek help and report a concern at the nearest hospital or police station.

The bottom line gender-based violence should be stopped, and survivors should come out about it, government should continue putting in place mitigations that will encourage survivors to come out. Also, survivors can receive financial support like tuition for basic literacy and numeracy skills, advice on income-generating activities, cash transfer programs, and savings schemes. Social empowerment activities may focus on women’s leadership and promotion of life skills through different seminars.


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