The Ministry of Health has reported a drastic increase in violence cases against women and girls since the pandemic hit Kenya in March 2020.
At least 5,000 rape cases have been recorded and reported since March. Sadly, most of the rape cases involve a grown male adult and girls aged under 18 years.
A whopping 30% increase in Wajir, Homabay, Turkana, Lamu, and Kisii was reported compared to a similar period in previous years. Shocking statistics of gender-based violence and femicide were also reported.
Health CAS Dr. Mwagangi told the press that, “There has been a 7 percent increase in all forms of violence against women from March. It is worse in some counties. Children below 18 comprise 70 percent of the victims, with only 5 percent being male.”
Schools have remained closed during this period and will only reopen in January 2021. This seems to be one of the major contributing factors to the rise. A government report also shows that over 50,000 school going girls have fallen pregnant within this period sparking fears among parents that the next six months will prove the same script.
Mutahi Kagwe, the health CS has stated that mental health issues have also been on the rise during the covid period. Stakeholders in the mental health industry have come out to support this giving factors such as loss of employment, domestic violence, anxiety, and depression as key contributors.
The government has put in place measures such as a toll-free mental health line to provide support. Further, Dr. Mwangangi assured Kenyans that the government had executed guidelines to help victims and survivors of violence to seek medical attention and assistance.
The National Prevention and Response Plan on Violence Against Children 2019-2023 has been formed to address all issues of violence against underage girls and boys.
The toll-free number for psychosocial support and counseling to victims is 1190. Violence and sexual assault cases can be reported to another toll-free number 116.