Huge win for survivors of sexual and gender based violence as Kenya launches its first ever policy for the National Police Service (NPS) integrated response to gender based violence.
Launched on the 13th October 2021, the Policy is intended to steer NPS in the establishment, management and operations of one-stop centers dubbed ‘Policare’ and is intended to provide comprehensive support services including legal, psychosocial support, police and health to survivors of gender based violence (GBV) at no cost.
During the launch, the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta uploaded the NPS for the Policare initiative and reiterated the need for a multi-sectoral response to the surging cases of GBV which has exacerbated vulnerabilities for countless numbers of women and girls across the country.
“I applaud the NPS for coming up with the innovative and transformative initiative which aims to effectively respond to survivors of GBV,” said the First Lady, adding that the Policare initiative is aligned to Kenya’s Generation Equality commitment to end GBV by 2026 and FGM by 2022.
The launch of the Policare Policy comes at a critical time when cases of GBV, majorly affecting women and girls have been on the rise with Kenya recording an increase of 92 percent increase in the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic as compared to 2019 according to a study by National Crime Research Center commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“Your public duty and responsibility in this instance is vital because you are on the frontline. You are the first contact of help to survivors of GBV,” said the First Lady while advising Police officers to ensure that they gain the trust of survivors as they conduct investigations and gather evidence on GBV matters.
Interior Coordination Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiangi who was also present during the launch stated that over the years, Kenya has been working to transform the police force to a service to make it accessible to the public more so survivors of gender based violence. He said it is time that Police Officers changed their policing attitudes and understand GBV as the most cruel reality of our society.
“We will do our best to enhance the involvement of others so that these Policare centers do not become just an event but a reality of how we do policing, build our communities and avenues to transform society’s attitudes towards women and the challenges that we face,” said CS Matiangi, committing to give Policare the attention it deserves.
The quest for a model one-stop center for GBV services including, health, legal, psychosocial support and police has been long coming; since time immemorial, advocates, CSOs and Women’s Rights Organizations among them, CREAW Kenya have been campaigning for a government sponsored survivor centered approach to GBV prevention, management and response. This they envisioned would help ease the journeys of survivors as they heal and navigate through the tedious justice system.
“I am glad that our advocacies have yielded fruits; with the Policare Policy in place, all that remains is to make its provisions real cascade the Policare centers to all 47 counties,” stated Wangechi Wachira, CREAW Kenya’s Executive Director.
CREAW Kenya has over the years continued to advocate for effective survivor centred interventions to provide comprehensive support services to survivors of gender based violence. Continuously, CREAW Kenya has supported the national and county level governments to enact gender sensitive policies that not only ensures gender mainstreaming in all government undertakings but also focuses on the elimination of the barriers that perpetuate violence against women and girls.
The launch of the Policare policy is therefore a step forward towards the actualization of Kenya’s Generation Equality Commitment to accelerate efforts and increase investments to end violence against women and girls by 2026. CREAW Kenya will continue to work and hold the government accountable to fully implement the policy and cascade Policare centers in all 47 counties.
Beyond our direct support to Policare Centers including the provision of dignity and safety kits, CREAW Kenya also partakes in the capacity enhancement training for police officers to enable them to effectively investigate, collect evidence and support survivors in their legal journeys. All these efforts are geared towards strengthening and building a criminal justice system that is more responsive to the needs of survivors of gender based violence.