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Why Gender-Based Violence is still ripe in Isiolo

Isiolo Women fetch water from the Alakara Shallow Well sunk by USAID | PHOTO-USAID

By Eastern Newspaper Correspondent

Reports show 40 percent of Kenyan women are likely to experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in a lifetime. In the fight and activism against such occurrences, a three-year program is underway in Isiolo to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls and help survivors report violations for easy access to justice.

Wajibu Wetu (Our Responsibility), an initiative by Isiolo Gender Watch, will raise awareness of gender-based violence (GBV), promote women’s and girls’ rights, and break the barriers victims face in accessing support services in Burat, Wabera, Ngaremara, and Bulapesa Programme officer Peter Ekai said the youth, persons living with disabilities, civil society, elders, religious leaders, and government officers will also be involved in a multisectoral approach to addressing the root causes of gendered violence.

“Gender-based violence remains rife in Isiolo and has been aggravated by hard economic times occasioned by drought and therefore need to bring all actors on board to address the menace,” he said.

The program, funded by Swedish ForumCiv seeks to ensure networking and collaboration between actors involved in advocacy and the duty bearers to address barriers, especially in the referral pathways for survivors.

Network groups and paralegals will be trained to educate women at the grassroots on their rights and how to report any form of abuse and assist victims to access justice and support. The program, funded by Swedish ForumCiv, also seeks to ensure networking and collaboration between actors involved in advocacy and the duty bearers to address barriers, especially in the referral pathways for survivors.

Gender Watch executive director Grace Lolim said school-going adolescent girls will also be trained in GBV and helped to form clubs that advocate their rights, including quality education.

Girls are vulnerable to violence at home and risk being subjected to female genital mutilation and married off in exchange for bride prices to help cushion their families against the harsh economic times.
Bringing multiple actors on board will help sustain campaigns, thus discouraging violence against women and girls and eliminating harmful cultural traditions that promote violence, Lolim said.

“We want to build women’s collective capacity to help each other in responding to, preventing, and addressing all forms of violence by taking them through the legal and judicial process,” she said.

“The working relationship will also go a long way in ensuring survivors access healthcare assistance, referral, counseling, and safe places in good time”.

A toll-free hotline 0800720925 will help in the anonymous reporting of GBV cases for prompt response by law enforcement agencies. Ms. Lolim said local female MCAs will also be brought on board to improve laws to help protect women’s rights.

“We want to, at the end of the project, have improved the capacity of rights holders and duty bearers on GBV against women and girls and ensure improved laws and policies that advance women’s rights,” she said during the project’s launch in Isiolo town.

The organization has been instrumental in championing women’s inclusion, especially in leadership and conflict resolution, efforts that have seen a number of them find their way onto peace committees and play key roles in conflict prevention and resolution.

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