Gender-based violence victims have at last gotten something to smile about after the government took a multisectoral approach to dealing with defilement and rape cases.
Speaking during a community protection watch group meeting held by Kenya Red Cross Bungoma with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland at Kopsiro on Monday, Dr. Jesse Wamocho from Bungoma County advised that parents and teachers should not shy away from teaching the young generation.
“It is a harsh reality that our children are engaging in sexual relations very early in their lives, and it is very risky. It is no longer taboo to boldly address this matter since the victims end up being our children,” observed Wamocho.
He further encouraged victims of gender-based violence and defilement to prioritise seeking medical services before reporting the cases to the police for legal action.
“In our recent stakeholder meeting, we deliberated that minor victims of GBV and especially defilement will have their statements at police stations as satisfying evidence for the case to proceed until the perpetrator is brought to justice,” reiterated Wamocho.
As a result of soaring defilement cases, teenage pregnancies have obviously risen, with ignorance and illiteracy worsening the situation, especially in the remote areas of Mount Elgon.
“We have most recently lost a form-two girl at Kapsokwony because of backdoor abortion, and many cases have gone unreported in the Chepyuk and Kopsiro areas,” reported Martin Cheshari.
His sentiments were abetted by Eliud Tendet Siyoi, a male champion from Emia, who challenged the whistle blowers to carry out exchange programmes so as to enlighten the area holistically.
“Before we even engage with the professionals from the county or national level, we should introduce an exchange programme where whistle blowers from Kopsiro can go to Kaboriot and those from Kaboriot go to Emia,” highlighted Siyoi.
Anthony Masinde, a nyumba kumi official from Kapkateny, also decried numerous cases of negligence among parents resulting in early marriages or unwanted teen pregnancies.
“There is a 14-year-old girl at my village who has now started having multiple sexual relations with men in exchange for shelter and food. It is very unfortunate that she has also started recruiting more girls to the vice, and definitely this is a time bomb,” bemoaned Masinde.
With 199 teenage pregnancies reported in Mt. Elgon Sub County in 2022 (between ages 10 and 14), only 49 were ever reported to police.
This largely calls for sensitization on the use of condoms, not only to bring down pregnancy cases but also to prevent HIV infection among teenagers and subsequently triple-threat HIV, which has in the recent past hit Bungoma.