16 facts about Gender Based Violence (GBV)

Access to JusticeDecember 6, 20210 CommentsKituo Cha Sheria

The 16 Days of Activism against GBV campaign kicked off on 25th November 2021, and runs until 10th December 2010. This year’s global theme is ‘Orange the world: End violence against women now!’ The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) through the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign) designed 25th November as the Orange day and urges governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media, and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. The colour orange symbolizes a brighter future, free of violence. It also serves as a means of demonstrating solidarity in eliminating all forms of violence and it is therefore used as the colour of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The campaign builds on existing international legal and policy frameworks and works to synergize the efforts of all UN offices and agencies working to end violence against women.

Here are 16 facts on GBV in Kenya:

1.      Know the facts

Over 40% of women in Kenya are likely to face sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), including lifetime physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime with one in five girls facing child marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM).

Kenya has a long way to go. We’ve seen these violations worsened by humanitarian crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and crises related to electoral periods, and this will continue without sustained action.

2.      GBV and the socio-economic class

A study carried out in Kenya on domestic violence meted on women indicates that 68% of husbands/partners were working (Johnson 2002). Most women have taken it as their fate to remain dependent on men due to poverty. Economically disadvantaged women, including refugees and women with physical disabilities are disproportionately affected and are more likely to experience sexual harassment, trafficking and sexual slavery.

The rate of reporting of cases is quite low because economically disadvantaged women may not be able to afford legal fees. Poor women in rural areas are economically dependent on their husbands, which reduce their ability afford the high costs of legal fees, transport costs and lawyer’s fee (Johnson, 2002).

3.      Take a stand on social media

Raise the topic, discuss difficult issues, connect with like-minded people, and share posts from activists and organisations. Unite in solidarity with women who have experienced GBV – and remember to colour your social media platforms orange.

4.      Sexist jokes are not funny

Sexism is any act, word or image based on the idea that a person is inferior because of their gender. Sexism is harmful because it produces feelings of worthlessness and enforces the stereotype that men are better than women. Don’t laugh at the jokes… don’t even smile!

The Government of Kenya recognizes that sustainable development cannot be achieved in an environment where GBV is a daily occurrence. The government has developed the National Policy for Prevention and Response to Gender Based Violence. This Policy is informed by various Government policy documents and statutory frameworks, The Constitution of Kenya; the Penal Code; the Sexual Offences Act, 2006, the Sexual Offences Regulations 2008; and the Sexual Offences Dangerous Offenders DNA Data Bank Regulations, the Counter Trafficking in Persons Act (2011), the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Act 2011, the Employment Act, 2007, the National Reproductive Health Policy, 2007; Kenya Vision 2030 among others. The framework is also aligned with the national goals of fostering social economic growth, general improvement and the well-being of Kenyans.[1]

The overall goal of the National Policy is to accelerate efforts towards the elimination of all forms of GBV in Kenya. The Policy Goal is to be realized as laid out in the key objectives which seek to ensure; a coordinated approach in addressing GBV and effective programming; enhanced enforcement of laws and policies towards GBV prevention and response; increase in access to quality and comprehensive support services across sectors; and improved sustainability of GBV prevention and response interventions.[2]

6.      Listen to a survivor

Jane O (Not her real name), a 27 year old woman who suffered physical and verbal abuse at the hands of her ex-partner, says: “I encourage anyone who is silently protecting an abuser to make up your mind and open your eyes. Love is not supposed to be painful. Love is kind. Love is protective. Love should always be beautiful, not harmful and not filled with fear. There is a place for us in society where we can find help, be protected, find sisterhood support, speak out, and break the silence. Day by day, you can only get better.” Jane has benefited from counselling and skills development opportunities through Kituo Cha Sheria’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programme (MHPSS). If you would like to chat with a counsellor, Text us on +254 0700777333 or email mhaki@kituochasheria.or.ke

7.      Power through unity

Kenya’s legal framework prohibits discrimination and violence. “We should no longer accept inequality and violence as the norm. We should form survivors’ solidarity circles to confront and expel abusers from our homes, workplaces and communities. Society must encourage women and men in abusive relationships to talk about their experiences and give them a safe space to do so while respecting that what they share is confidential.[3]

8.      Contribute what you can

Ask what practical support you could provide. This could mean providing company to report the crime at a police station, assistance in finding a professional to speak to, or being present for medical appointments. Offer practical help without adding the pressure for them to take action. 

It is important to note that survivors may not be ready to take any sort of action after an assault. However, informing them that should they need it, you are willing to stay by their side and assist them along the way is an indication of support. Support GBV or women empowerment campaigns. If you cannot afford a cash donation, find other ways to support survivors including supporting fundraising events.

9.      Avoid imposing gender stereotypes

Gender stereotypes are fixed and oversimplified beliefs about what is normal and appropriate for people in a certain culture based on their biological sex. Some examples of stereotypes include: women should take care of the home; men should go to work; women should be secretaries or work at a daycare; men shouldn’t be nurses or kindergarten teachers. Gender stereotypes make bad behavior more acceptable. Consider the old saying, “boys will be boys.” This attitude makes it more acceptable for men to be aggressive, violent, or unfaithful to their wives. The stereotype that women need men to survive may sometimes encourage women to allow men to do all the work for them rather than getting out in the world and doing their share to support the family.[4]

Stop and think about those Christmas gift catalogues that have a pink page full of prams, toy kitchens and frilly aprons for girls; and a blue page featuring balls, cars and tools for boys. Let your son help cook and your daughter mow the lawn and make sure your partner is on board. It’s important to socialise our children to know that boys are not better than girls; they are equal. We need to raise children in non-violent households where abuse is not tolerated. In this way, they are less likely to normalise abuse and stay in abusive relationships when they are older.[5]

10.  The law offers retributive justice for survivors of rape and defilement

In Kenya, the Sexual Offences Act 2006 states as follows:                  

 “any person who commits the offence of rape or defilement under this Act in association with another or others, or any person who, with common intention, is in the company of another or others who commit the offence of rape or defilement is guilty of an offence termed gang rape and is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less fifteen years but which may be enhanced to imprisonment for life.”

11.  Survivors and perpetrators

Women and girls and other marginalized groups of people such as refugees and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQIA+) are disproportionately affected by GBV. Perpetrators are mainly heterosexual men.

12.  If you think someone I know is being abused

You should, first and foremost, believe the person. Listen with compassion and do not judge. Offer practical support, such as accompanying the person to the police station. Share any information you may have regarding GBV support centres and contact details.

13.  Do not support rape culture

Rape culture is a sociological theory of a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence, or some combination of these. It has been used to describe and explain behavior within social groups, including prison rape and in conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire societies have been alleged to be rape cultures. It also includes promoting rape fantasies and rape pornography.

14.  Learn the signs of abuse and how you can help

There are many forms of abuse and all of them can have serious physical and emotional effects. If you’re concerned about a friend who may be experiencing violence or feels unsafe around someone, review these signs and learn about the ways to help them find safety and support.

15.   Dignity, equality and justice

GBV is rooted in gender inequality and women’s structural subordination to men, codified in major religious and other cultural practices.  We should challenge inequality and violence as it contradicts the Constitution of Kenya and other national, regional and international laws. It is important to recognize that the government has a duty to ensure that the rights outlined in the Constitution are protected and fulfilled. This is crucial to ensure dignity, equality and justice are applied in claiming rights.

16.  Start a conversation

SGBV is a human rights violation that’s been perpetuated for decades.

It’s pervasive, but it’s not inevitable, unless we stay silent. Show your solidarity with survivors and where you stand in the fight for survivors’ rights by ‘oranging’ your social media profile for the 16 Days of Activism

Use #orangetheworld, #16Days and #GenerationEquality to start your own conversation about gender-based violence, tag Kituo Cha Sheria on: Twitter – @KituoSheria, Facebook – @KituoSheria, Instagram: Kituo_Cha_Sheria

Stop GBV today

By Samfelix Randa – Communications Officer – Kituo Cha Sheria


[2] Ibid.

[3] https://albertonrecord.co.za/312195/16-days-of-activism-against-gender-based-violence-what-you-need-to-know/

[4] https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/stereotypes/22-ways-to-overcome-gender-stereotypes/

[5] Ibid n3.

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