NGEC raises concern over rising cases of domestic violence, sexual harassment

NGEC raises concern over rising cases of domestic violence, sexual harassment

The National Gender and Equality Commission has expressed concern over emerging  trends of domestic violence and sexual harassment directed to women, girls and boys,  particularly in the private spaces.

According to the Chairperson Dr. Joyce Mutinda, these incidences are estimated to increase during the December festive season when most families and communities venture  into fun and celebrations. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic like many other emergencies has aggravated the situation even further. Reports from various sources indicate an unprecedented upsurge in the cases of GBV particularly after Kenya announced restricted movements of persons and closing of schools to  contain the spread of coronavirus,” she said in a statement.

Dr. Mutinda cited a study by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in 2020 that showed that 23.6 per cent of Kenyans have witnessed or heard cases of domestic violence in their communities since the introduction of COVID-19 containment measures.

Further, the commission avers that with the commencement of the second wave of COVID -19 infections in October 2020, cases of GBV may continue increasing if deliberate and innovative measures are not put in place to effectively respond, manage and prevent the vice.

Dr. Mutinda also raised the alarm over increasing cases of  abduction of teenage girls and boys who she said are then exposed to pornographic materials, drugs  and substance abuse, and sexual activities.

Additionally, the NGEC chairperson stated that sexual attacks directed to girls with disabilities and  older women are also on the rise.

“There are more cases of online sexual harassment as well.  We have also observed an emerging culture of silence among victims of GBV perhaps due to  confinement of persons at home and feeling of hopelessness,” she added.

NGEC acknowledged the government and its partners for efforts put into programming, funding and strengthening of interventions geared towards the  elimination of gender based violence.

However, the commission urged State and non-State actors to focus on these emerging drivers of GBV.

The scale-up of  the National Response Plans for COVID-19 and subsequent implementation of Economic  Recovery Strategy further presents the government and development partners with  opportunities to continue funding and investment in GBV programs including the collection of  timely data,” said Dr. Mutinda.

Her statement comes as the world commemorates the commencement of the 2020 International Campaign against Gender-Based Violence dubbed ’16 Days of Activism’.

During the campaign period that will run up to December 10, 2020, the NGEC will be joining the United Nations and other partners to take stock and formulate measures that will contribute to ending violence against women and girls.

The theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign 2020 is ‘Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!’