MOST African governments have progressive policies against gender based violence (GBV) but are failing on implementation, United Nations High Commissioner for Human, Dr Michelle Bachelete has warned.
By Michael Gwarisa in Nairobi, Kenya
Briefing a panel session on GBV at the ongoing International Conference on Population Development (ICPD) in Kneya, Nairobi, Dr Bachelete said GBV requires urgent attention and political will by governments.
It is the state or country’s responsibility to protect its citizens against gender based violence. Violence is so widespread violence everywhere, in rich countries and poor countries. We know we need to protect and provide services women against GBV but it’s not working.
“It’s not working for many reasons, the big one being that countries have fantastic legislation but they won’t implement them,” said Dr Bachelete.
According to global statistics, GBV or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
Globally, 7 percent of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner. Globally, as many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Professor Magaret Kobia, Kenya’s called on African governments to fast-track policies that deal with GBV against women and other minority groups in order to create a GBV free generation.
“The voices of victims of GBV have been stifled by lack of action and harmful practices in society. These harmful Issues of GBV continue to be a serious issue affecting achievement of gender equality,” she said.
She added that since the Cairo convention in 1994, Kenya has come up with numerous laws that focus on the eradication of GBV which include the Sexual Offenses Act 2006, the Children Act of 2001 among others. The government of Kenya yesterday also committed to ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGML) a form of women violation by the year 2022.
Meanwhile, Trevor Paidamoyo, Founder of the Purple Hand Africa an organisation for Lesbians and Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTQ) said GBV against members of the LGBTQ community was rampart yet governments turn a blind eye to its existence.
“The issue of LGBTQ even up to today is something that is still regarded as unAfrican by most African countries. By not addressing LGBTQI issues as human rights, we are in a way dis-empowering ourselves.
“As long as we do not uphold LGBTQI rights, we will be failing to end violence against this group. The LGBTQI faces violence in the form of verbal and physical abuse on a daily basis as a result of laws and beliefs that stigmatise against us,” said Paidamoyo.
Most African countries have outlawed LGBTQI and in most cases the punishment involves imprisonment of not less than five years. Even in countries where LGBTQI has been legalised such as South Africa, members of this community still face massive homophobia induced stigma and discrimination from society.