Leaders and activists from Garissa have called for concerted efforts to end gender-based violence which they say remains high.
Speaking during the launch of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in Garissa hotel, the group led by wife of Garissa governor Fardowsa Osman asked men to take the lead in protecting women and children against abuses meted by perpetrators who often go scot free.
“Stand up against these abusive behaviours whenever we see them at home and at work. Everyone has a responsibility to prevent and to end violence against women and girls,’’ Fardowsa said.
She said gender-based violence, especially in the Northeastern region, often remains unreported due to fear of stigmatisation within homes and communities.
She said every human being, whether male or female, has the right to a peaceful living and working environment free from any form of harassment or violence.
“I stand here as a woman, a mother, a sister, a wife and as the first lady of the county pained by the fact that sexual and gender-based violence continues to increase. This should not be happening at all in this age and era,’’ she added.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014, Garissa county has 97 per cent FGM prevalence compared to the national average of 21 per cent.
Fardowsa urged development partners, including UNICEF, to continue partnering with both national and county governments to end gender-based violence and empower women and girls in education and skills that will make them prosper.
Nominated senator Falhada Iman agreed with Fardowsa and urged men to “stand up against abusive behaviors when they see them happen”. “We all have a role to play in ending violence against the girl child and women. Gone are those days when women’s rights were thought as women’s business. More and more men and boys are becoming true partners. This must continue,” Iman said.
She said it was unfortunate to see FGM still practiced and called upon all stakeholders to completely get rid of it. The forum was attended by women, youth, elders and representatives from various civil society groups and county officials.