Nandi County-based tea producer Eastern Produce Kenya has moved to boost the war against Gender-Based Violence in the South Rift region with a Kshs 2.3 million investment in a community facility.
The purpose-built facility located at the Nandi East Sub County Police headquarters will provide Sexual and Gender Based Violence services. It will house the regional gender awareness offices, allowing for improved security and related stakeholders’ response to SGBV distress reports.
Speaking in Nandi, as part of the events to mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, EPK Director Leah Kibii Chirchir said the new facility will provide community services relating to SGBV management and enhance community policing efforts.
The purpose of this upgrade (Construction and equipping), she said, is to ensure that we have a comprehensive and well-functioning, fully resourced SGBV desk and, in turn, provide a safe, caring environment and respect the confidentiality of SGBV victims at the Gender desk manned by the police officers and Child Protection officers.
“EPK is a corporate member of the Nandi community, and our investment in an SGBV Centre here at the police headquarters is geared at providing support to contain gender-based violence. Beyond reporting for prosecution, this facility will provide much-needed psychosocial support, including counseling services. We desire to see an improvement in SGBV prevention and response,” She said.
She added: “We have been on a long journey to set up a proper facility that can address challenges and gaps relating to the current services that our dedicated Police officers can offer in the event of an SGBV report. With this facility, the management of SGBV cases will be streamlined, providing the necessary confidentiality and attention by well-trained officers supported by counselors and psychologists.”
Through EPK’s support, the new facility now features better office furniture, a conducive work environment for the officers, and a comfortable and confidential environment for victims and visitors. The facility is also equipped with Information Technology systems, including a Computer for data storage, data management, data tracking of all cases reported and communication with external stakeholders, among other features.
According to UN WOMEN, the global theme of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, which runs from 25 November to 10 December 2023, is “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls”.
Violence against women and girls disrupts peace and stability within families and communities. It triggers myriad costs to societies in healthcare, education, social protection, justice and productivity, preventing economies from achieving their full potential. The solution lies in robust responses, including investment in prevention.
During the event, Nandi County Deputy Governor Dr Yulita Mitei, who presided over the facility commissioning, expressed regret that SGBV management in some cases is hampered by lack of proper facilities and officers well trained and experienced to handle the cases.
She expressed optimism that the new gender facility will translate to a reduction in violence against girls, women, and even boys, revealing that Nandi East is one of the sub-counties in Nandi that has been reporting more cases of violence against women and girls.
She further applauded EPK Limited for championing the fight against SGBV by establishing such a facility. She urged other multinational tea companies to emulate EPK’s example through community investment initiatives.
“There are several cases that we have witnessed over time, and even as we speak, we have received reports of violence with Nandi East and Tinderet sub-counties reporting more cases of gender-based violence. I want to appreciate EPK for raising their voice against SGBV,” she explained.
Francis Omulo, the sub-county police commander, lauded EPK for their support and said that they had equipped the office, thus making it fully functional, adding that it will be operating for 24 hours.
“This is a sensitive office as it deals with children, youth, adults, and even psychologically tortured individuals,” said Omulo, noting that it will be of great help to the community with the surge in violence issues being reported regularly in society.
The major types of GBV affecting modern society include domestic violence, sexual abuse cases like rape and sodomy, and female genital mutilation, among others.
Nandi East Sub County Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Leonard Mgute observed that this facility will go a long way in strengthening partnerships and linkages to ensure GBV case management and enforcement are in place.
The DCC commended EPK for being a dependable partner to the surrounding community in ensuring their wellbeing is catered for over time, adding that the office will provide a safe and inclusive environment to people regardless of their gender.
“SGBV is a pressing issue that individuals across the globe are experiencing. The establishment of this facility, together with our gender office, provides a collective determination where victims can seek support, justice, and empowerment,” Mgute said.
Mgute called on church leaders to be at the forefront in sensitising people to avoid violence by all means, as well as praying for the community, especially young couples, whom he said are the most affected by domestic violence.
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