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Several studies have revealed that there is an increase in the levels of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in this time when the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a research done by the IFRC, the reason why SGBV is rising rapidly during COVID-19 especially in homes or family, including intimate partner violence and child or elder sexual abuse include;
- forced co-existence and isolation with abusers due to COVID-19 containment measures put in place by governments, or
- New abuse triggered by fear, stress, loss of household income and livelihood, or
- Prolonged confinement in COVID-19 lockdown measures and negative coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.
Here in Kenya things have not been different as SGBV cases are currently on a spike, but this is not to mean that these cases were not there pre-COVID-19.
ODPP’s big plan to end SGBV in Kenya
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) on Wednesday, July 15 outlined its plan to end this crisis.
The initiatives that DPP Noordin Haji-led agency has put in place to end SGBV include;
- The establishment and operationalisation of the SGBV division within the ODPP to handle SGBV cases.
- Increased presence of prosecutors through recruitment to cover the 47 counties and sub-counties.
- Dissemination of the Investigators and Prosecutors Manual on Ending SGBV in Kenya.
- Preparations and dissemination of sample charge sheet models to all prosecutors countrywide.
- Continuous and enhanced capacity building of prosecutors and investigators through aggressive training and sensitisation on SGBV.
- The ODPP has already worked with the task-force on the Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act, which developed and gazetted regulations on sexual offences and a draft policy and rules of the Sexual Offences Act (SOA).
- The ODPP is currently working in an inter-agency team to draft Sexual Offences Act Policy.
- Organising of moot court sessions for members of the public. This helps demystify court processes, ease understanding by members of public on court settings. Some of the moot court sessions that ODPP has held include with International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ-K), Prison Services and National Police Service, and
- Working with key partners such as government minsitries, international partners, NGOs and Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs) to promote and enhance integrity cooperation and collaboration mechanisms.
While acknowledging that the Kenyan government has performed fairly well in the enactment of laws, policies and regulations in response, prevention and management of SGBV, the ODPP further says that it is devoted to fighting the vice the country.