A safe centre for survivors of gender-based violence
By Serah Kamau
Girl Child Network (GCN), a non-governmental organisation fighting for the rights of the girl child has secured a premises in Thika for the establishment of a safe centre and mentorship hub for survivors of gender-based violence.
GCN executive director Mercy Musomi said the Salama Safe Centre and Mentorship Hub will provide a temporary safe, family friendly and therapeutic place where girls and women will begin to heal from trauma and establish goals towards self-sufficiency.
“This will be done with the help of professionals backed by positive support. The centre will be a place where GBV survivors will not only receive temporary protection and support but also other support services to empower them to overcome their problems, rebuild their lives and leave the centre with an established plan of action,” she said on Friday. The launch of the centre and mentorship hub is a major boost to the fight against gender-based violence coming at a time when cases of violence against women and girls are on the rise due to life pressure from the effects of coronavirus.
According to data compiled from national hotline 1195, Kiambu county has the third highest rates of violence after Nairobi and Kisumu counties. Some of the factors contributing to the rising cases Musomi said include poverty, abuse of alcohol and drugs and stress caused by effects of Covid-19.
Some of the support services that will be available at the safe centre include psycho-social support for survivors, temporary shelter, referral services for medical and legal aid, outreaches for awareness creation on GBV, capacity building and life skills sessions. “The survivors will also get basic survival skills such as tailoring, soap making and numeracy skills,” she added.
Kiambu Deputy Governor Dr Joyce Ngugi, who was the chief guest raised the alarm over rising cases of gender-based violence, rape and defilement cases in the county and called for more strategies to tame the vice.
She noted cases of violence against women and girls persist despite punitive legislation put in place over time raising concern among leaders and humanitarian organisations.
The county chief said majority of GBV offences go unreported partly because of unconducive justice system or stigma and harmful norms and attitudes that lead to silence of the victims.
“Most people do not want to report rape and GBV cases because they fear being humiliated at the police station or at the chief’s office. Others feel the court process is too tedious and getting justice is not guaranteed. We need to create a friendly environment by creating gender desks and creating confidence in our justice processes. Perpetrators should be brought to book and rights of women and girls must be protected,” she said.