BY CYNTHIA AKOTH
Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) is one of the Sexual and Reproductive Health issues that affects adolescent and youths in different counties; my home county of Migori being one of them.
A recent case occurred at Awendo Sub-County where a 13 year old girl was defiled by her grandfather who is 70 years old. Besides this, many of the cases go unreported and those reported are not prosecuted.
The weak implementation is seen in the fact that Migori County does not have any budgetary allocation for SGBV yet the county had just launched an SGBV policy that needs money/resources to be fully implemented to ensure SGBV reduction.
The violence is mostly experienced by our girls and young women who are physically, emotionally and psychologically being tortured. They undergo rape, defilement and some are sexually being exploited.
These kind of torture results into some girls (victims) becoming pregnant at a tender age forcing them for early marriages and dropping out of school since parents have also become less concerned about their children.
Some even end up contracting HIV virus rendering them to miserable lives.
The cultural beliefs which encourage Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C) among the Kuria people are also still ongoing.
Even if we have a lot of awareness on the effects of FGM being provided by reproductive health youth advocates and champions, there is need for the County to provide support to them to make their effort fruitful.
Despite all these SGBV cases, Migori County does not have an operational rescue center where the SGBV victims/survivors can be given the necessary guidance and counselling.
The weak prosecution of the SGBV cases can also explain why victims are being charged a lot of money to get P-3 forms for SGBV cases in the hospitals yet it should be free as was indicated in the Migori County Finance bill for the financial year 2021/2022.
These charges prevent SGBV victims from reporting the cases due to poverty.
As condemned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the County should also put more effort to eradicate any form of SGBV. This can be achieved through continuous allocation of funds by the County Executive Committee and all responsible in every financial year to help in the implementation of the SGBV policy for this will safeguard youths from harmful practices.
There is also need for functional rescue centers in the county to help in handling the cases through guidance and counselling.
As stated in the Kenyan Constitution in article 25(a), our youths should be free from torture and cruel or inhuman. This can be achieved only if the SGBV policies are fully implemented in the County.
Ms Akoth is a NAYA youth advocate in Migori County