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Is your voice being heard? Connecting without violence

 

On Tuesday, July 28, 2020 the Strathmore Law clinic held an engaging webinar dubbed “Combating Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Kenya during COVID-19, Role of the Government, Media and Legal Aid Confirmation”. To further enlighten the virtual listeners on the agenda were Becky Arunga – (State Prosecutor office of the DPP), Dr. Kizzie Shako – (Forensic Police Surgeon), Winfred Odali – (Legal Counsel- Center for Rights Education and Awareness), Sally Boyani and Priscilla Nge’the – (Journalist – BBC Africa). The moderators of the event were 3rd year Strathmore Law School students Sara Ndei and Abdilatif Ali.

What is Sexual Gender Based Violence?

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) refers to any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships. It encompasses threats of violence and coercion. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual in nature, and can take the form of a denial of resources or access to services. It inflicts harm on women, girls, men and boys.

What are some forms of SGBV?
  1. Physical violence – Any act which causes physical harm as a result of unlawful physical force. It can be a serious or minor assault, deprivation of liberty and even manslaughter.
  2. Sexual violence – Any sexual act performed on an individual without their consent. Some examples of such include rape or sexual assault.
  3. Psychological violence – Any act which causes psychological harm to an individual. For example, coercion, defamation, verbal insult or harassment.
  4. Social Economic violence – Any behavior which causes economic harm to an individual. For example, property damage, restricting access to financial resources, education or the labor market, or not complying with economic responsibilities, such as alimony.
  5. Cultural violence – It is exemplified by traditions, religion, ideology etc. It can be used to justify or legitimize acts making them feel right or at least not wrong. For example, female genital mutilation (FGM) , early marriage and forced marriages.
What is the role of media in Sexual Gender Based Violence?

The media plays a vital role in raising awareness on sexual gender based violence. It sets the agenda as it has power to dictate what people see and hear. In addition, it molds the minds of many on the various aspects of life such as the effects of violence. It also calls into action the various entities involved in ensuring the better being of the community, for example the building of shelter homes where victims of SGBV can go.

How can we enlighten the community about SGBV?
  1. Educate children on their rights at a personal level to create assurance that seeks what is best for them.
  2. Help our children acquire skills on self-defense such as boxing, taekwondo and martial arts,
  3. By law students sharing their wealth of knowledge with the community to help demystify the language of law.
  4. Most importantly we need a media that educates and speaks firmly against SGBV and does not camouflage it.
  5. Above all, parents need to form unbreakable bonds with their children. This allows genuine conversations between the two.

Failure to address this issue will have a significant cost in the future.  Numerous studies have shown that children who grow up with violence are more likely to become survivors themselves or perpetrators of violence in the future. Sexual and gender-based violence does not begin with disasters like COVID-19. But the chaos and instability they cause leave women, boys and girls more vulnerable.

 

This article was written by Annete Karanja.

 

Would you like to share your experience of living through the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu

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