The State of Gender-Based Violence in Nairobi

By Treezer Michelle Atieno

Nairobi City County recently took a significant stride in the battle against gender-based violence (GBV) by organizing the Nairobi Run against GBV marathon. This event, held at the Green Park Terminus, is part of the global 16 Days of Activism campaign, aiming to raise awareness and eliminate violence against women and girls. County Executive Committee Member for Inclusivity, Dr. Anastasia Nyalita, and Chief Guest Cabinet Secretary for Gender, Hon. Aisha Jumwa, flagged off the marathon, marking the county’s commitment to combat GBV.

Dr. Nyalita expressed gratitude to partners for their support and highlighted Nairobi County’s unique position as the only county with a safe house. This safe house, in collaboration with the national government and partners, underscores the county’s dedication to sensitizing the community about gender-based violence. The run itself is a manifestation of solidarity, aiming to amplify the voices of survivors and raise awareness about the pervasive issue of GBV.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global initiative that commenced on 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10th December. This annual campaign, initiated in 1991, serves as a strategy to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls worldwide.

Maryam Dahir, County Chief Officer for Gender, emphasized Nairobi County’s unwavering commitment to ending gender-based violence. Through events like the Nairobi Run, the county aims to break the silence, challenge societal norms, and contribute to a future where every individual can live free from the shadows of violence.

However, a recent report by Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) reveals concerning statistics about GBV survivors in Nairobi. The study, conducted among 1,357 respondents aged 15 to 24 in Mukuru, indicates that very few survivors seek help for both intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence.

Embarrassment and fear emerged as the top reasons for not seeking help, with 53% of survivors of intimate partner violence citing embarrassment for themselves or their families. Additionally, 31% of those who experienced GBV from intimate partner violence and 27% from non-partner sexual violence did not think it was a problem. Other barriers include lack of transport, fear of abandonment, services being too far, and obstruction by family or community.

In light of these findings, there is a pressing need to increase knowledge of and access to GBV response services. The report advocates for strategically placing these services in easily accessible and comfortable locations for survivors. Confidentiality must also be protected to encourage survivors to seek help without fear.

Nairobi City County’s initiative with the Nairobi Run against GBV is a commendable effort in the ongoing 16 Days of Activism. While progress is being made, the challenges highlighted in the recent report emphasize the importance of sustained efforts to eradicate gender-based violence. It is crucial for the county, in collaboration with partners, to address these barriers and work towards creating a community where survivors feel empowered to seek help without hesitation.

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