Government needs to seriously consider responses to GBV in the context of COVID-19

Words by Mariah Onyango

Two weeks into the dusk to dawn curfew imposed by the Kenyan government to curb down the spread of Covid-19 in our country, this pandemic has had adverse effects on our socio-economic constructs. Covid-19 has adversely affected other health sectors including sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The curfew has seen an increase in incidents of sexual gender based violence (SGBV) thus forcing our women and girls to live around or with perpetrators, resulting in them not being able to access violence response platforms and some cases going unreported. What happens when someone is assaulted during the wee hours of curfew? What happens when our women and girls require contraceptive emergency services? What happens when our women require emergency birth services? Not to mention the increasing rate of gender based violence will increase the rate of unwanted pregnancies which may result in unsafe abortions that may lead to complications or even maternal mortality.

We accept that fighting Covid-19 is our first priority, but the government needs to realize that the safety of our women and girls is very key. We need safe houses for survivors who can no longer stay with the perpetrators. Sexual and reproductive health and rights issues should be prioritized and contraceptive services should be included as a necessity among other essential services.

Let’s remember GBV doesn’t take breaks. Indeed Women's Rights are Human Rights.

#ExpectRespect #Covid19 #StopGenderBasedViolence #HappyFlowMonday