Kenya: Report reveals how sexual and gender-based violence undermines mars elections

Yasuyoshi Chiba / AFP

Nairobi, Paris — The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation in Kenya, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, are publishing a report today, examining patterns of sexual and gender-based violence against women during election seasons in Kenya and call upon the State to take immediate preventive actions in view of the upcoming 2022 general elections.

On the occasion of a high-level event organised today in Nairobi, FIDH and KHRC are publishing a joint report titled "Sexual and gender-based violence as one of the major components of election-related violence in Kenya: risks and actions needed for 2022." Key actors, including representatives from the Independent Elections Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), the National Council on the Administration of Justice (NCAJ), the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), and a survivor of the 2007/2008 post-election violence, are gathered to discuss sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) during elections with a view to prevent its occurrence in the upcoming elections.

With their new report on election-related SGBV in Kenya, FIDH and KHRC intend to emphasise the gender dimension of violence perpetrated against women during elections, in order to prevent any resurgence of such violence in 2022.

This report is based on fact-finding missions and in-depth analysis of SGBV, including violence committed in three opposition strongholds — Migori, Vihiga, and Kisumu counties — during the last general elections in 2017.

The report further highlights testimonies of survivors, as well as the significant impact of SGBV for survivors and their families. It exposes patterns of election-related SGBV against women in Kenya, including gang rape perpetrated by security forces, and shows that impunity still prevails for perpetrators of such actions. Indeed, despite some actions taken by the State, challenges remain in the prevention, protection, investigation, and reparation of SGBV against women in Kenya.

"Sexual and gender-based violence during elections has dire, multiple, and specific consequences on survivors. If left unaddressed, they worsen over time, and will have an impact on the next elections—affecting the participation of women in electoral processes."

Davis Malombe, Executive Director of KHRC.

The gender dimension of political violence in Kenya constitutes a major risk factor for the perpetration of SGBV committed during election seasons. The report therefore provides a risk assessment in view of the upcoming 2022 general elections and presents a set of recommendations aimed at preventing any resurgence of election-related SGBV.

"With less than a year to go before the next elections, the State, in coordination with civil society must take immediate measures to counter the violence, addressing root causes of SGBV and delivering long-lasting impacts."

Sheila Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President.

Precisely, the two organisations recommend that:

• The judiciary fast-tracks all pending cases for victims of electoral injustices within the next six months;

• The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) develops guidelines to enhance the investigation of electoral offences during the electoral cycle;

• The Independent Elections Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and other public agencies regulating the electoral environment and security promote free, fair and credible elections, whose lack of often is the reason for electoral conflict that leads to suppression of claimants of electoral fraud. The agencies uphold human rights and conduct effective investigation and prosecution of electoral offences and offenders;

• State institutions implement the existing guidelines on managing sexual violence to protect women and girls and end the impunity that has allowed conflict-related sexual violence to thrive without redress or accountability to survivors;

• The Kenya Police Service and all Political Parties protect women against all forms of political violence by guaranteeing a safe electoral environment to enjoy political rights.

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