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Red Cross trains 50 volunteers in Tseikuru to curb defilement cases 

Red  Cross  has trained 50 ambassador volunteers to drive Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) campaign messaging to rural communities in Tseikuru, Mwingi North Sub-County.

Speaking to Kenya News Agency in Mwingi on Wednesday, area Red Cross Branch Coordinator, Martin Mutisya lamented that long-held societal misconception about the role of women after dowry payment was fuelling increased cases of domestic violence.

“The cultural belief that once a husband has settled the dowry with the in-laws, the wife becomes his property has perpetuated wife battery among communities living in Tseikuru,” said Mutisya.

In a bid to curb spiraling SGBV cases in the area, Red Cross trained 50 individuals among them chiefs and their assistants, village administrators, teachers, women leaders, youths and opinion leaders.

The training aimed atcreating awareness on the effects of SGBV that has left many homes destitute and vulnerable children as orphans.

The training was tailored to meet the needs of the select constituent group to find alternative conflict resolution mechanisms in the home rather than resorting to violence.

“For women who batter their husbands, the main reasons fronted during focus group discussions was mainly drunkenness and irresponsible fathers who have abdicated their roles as family breadwinners,” observed Mutisya.

The Coordinator said that they also formed a theatre group comprising youth and school children to dramatize the potent effects of SGBV on young children’s education and economic fortunes of a household.

“When a young teenage girl falls pregnant, she definitely drops out of school. Her household will have to dig deep into their pockets to cater for the new born baby, an extra mouth to feed,” he said.

He appealed to the society to embrace SGBV messaging as brought to them by the trained ambassadors in a bid to pull the affected communities out of the vice that is deeply entrenched in the area.

Despite huge poverty gaps, communities in Tseikuru can change their fortunes if they reversed their attitudes towards SGBV.

In Mwingi Central, area Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), David Rotich attributed the drop of the vice to increased level of awareness in reporting defilement matters.

“In March 2016, we launched a campaign to create awareness among the locals to sensitize them on the effects of defilement. Initially, the reported cases were at least 10 per week whereas the unreported ones doubled the number,” said Rotich.

However, the DCC disclosed that his office is happy that the unreported cases can now be document with a view to assisting defiled children get reprieve for violation of their rights.

Rotich lamented that so far courts have not been able to convict the perpetrators of the heinous crimes.

“Parents of the affected children sometimes fail to take the defiled child to hospital for proper medical examination and in some other instances, witnesses fail to show up in court or volunteer to write statements,” the administrator lamented.

Rotich said that due to high poverty levels, parents are persuaded to accept compensation for the injustice meted on their children at the expense of the child’s rights.

He said vulnerable children under the care of single mothers were the worst hit as the mother has to fend for herself and the child. “She sometimes leaves the child under a care giver who in turn defiles the minor,” he said.

“We have witnessed cases where a father defiles his own child. We have arrested a teacher, a grandfather and even close male relatives involved in defiling young children aged as low as three years,” he lamented.

By Yobesh Onwong’a

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