Sodomy emerges as a new form of sexual violence in Kilifi County

Cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) remain rampant in Kilifi County despite many efforts to create awareness and see a reduction in the statistics.Picture:CREAW
Cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) remain rampant in Kilifi County despite many efforts to create awareness and see a reduction in the statistics.Picture:CREAW

Cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (GBV) remain rampant in Kilifi County despite many efforts to create awareness and see a reduction in the statistics.

However, with a high number of children being survivors and victims, violence has become a hindrance to their prosperity.

A baseline survey conducted by Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) revealed that whereas defilement is still the highest form of sexual violence, sodomy is now a new trend.

“Kilifi is one of the most hit counties in terms of gender based violence and this is reported by the hospitals, courts and even the community,” said Isabel Mwangi, CREAW program officer in Kilifi County. She notes: “Defilement is still noted as the highest form of violence even though rape cases are also high but sodomy is on the increase.”

Noted Mwangi: “A lot of boys are being abused and because of our culture where men are meant to be brave and strong they are sitting on these issues until something goes wrong  and that is when they will go report to their mother.”

Speaking during the launch of CREAW report in Kilifi, Mwangi said the county had 800 gender based violence cases in 2015. Kilifi County Referral Hospital Gender Based Recovery Centre recorded 479 cases in one year and some months.

She said this year the county had recorded more cases within a short time compared to the past.

“At the Kilifi Law Courts, the probation office is dealing with 13 cases of rehabilitation of those who have been convicted under sexual offences. The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has 45 ca, which are the same as the Gender Desk at Kilifi Police Station,” she noted.

According to Mwangi, the survey revealed that the public is still very suspicious of the police, Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) and the Judiciary because “they still feel that corruption is what fuels justice in the country”.

Mwangi blamed poor parenting skills and irresponsibility by community as the reasons behind the increase of numbers. In addition there is the issue of culture where a woman is supposed to always submit to the man in spite of the abuses.

“The community is not taking these cases of abuse with seriousness and that is why they will always conduct Kangaroo courts at the chief’s offices,” said Mwangi. She added: “Parents have failed to take care of their children.”

“Out of the 124 cases of defilement reported at the GBV Recovery Centre only 45 are in court. We are asking ourselves where the remaining cases have disappeared to.”

The same sentiments were echoed by Hilda Mupa, a parent from Kaloleni Sub-County who said that most parents are to blame for child abuse.

“Parents always think that when their girls reach 14 years they are mature and whatever they do is upon them. They do not have time to sit the children down and provide them with moral support on how to complete education as well as issues of social life at home and in school.”

Mupa said noted that many parents with adolescent children separate with their girls sending them to live with relatives. She says this comes with a freedom that has seen underage girl find their way to the local night discos locally known as usiniriche which has been the source of immorality as well as a place where sexual and gender based violence takes place.

Says Mupa: “When a girl goes to sleep with her grandmother or the auntie, it is difficult for the mother to monitor them at night. They will go out to the discos and that is when they are abused.

However Secretary General Malindi District Cultural Association (MADICA) Joseph Mwarandu said wife battering, defilement and sodomy are against the Mijikenda Culture.

Mwarandu said for seven years now the organization has been holding a 350 kilometre walk to preach peace and fight against GBV in the Coast region.

“We are being misguided with facts when it comes to the interpretation of the Mijikenda culture. Women had an important role in the society. There were prophets (Mepoho) and Mekatilili. It was hard to see that a woman is abused since there were Kaya elders who were in charge of the law,” said Mwarandu. He noted: “There were those who formed (Gohu) and the implementers who were known as vaya. If a man abused his wife, the elders would warn him and if he repeated he would then be punished.”

Reiterated Mwarandu: “Beating a woman was forbidden and the man would be fined a goat and if he failed his private parts would be pinched very hard.”

Mwangi said the existence of the Kilifi County GBV Network, had enabled all the duty bearers to come together and discuss matters which enabled the community to work together with the relevant departments.

She said that CREAW, which is few months old in Kilifi County, will work together with women led accountability groups to address gender based violence.

“We want to use public policy advocacy as well as coalitions and partnerships to ensure that women take up matters by themselves and with duty bearers. We will value and respect every woman’s thought despite their socio-economic position in society,” emphasised Mwangi.

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