Early this year, when I was doing my thing, which is of course writing. I wanted to create awareness on Gender-based violence to make it easier for people to be open about it, as well as open discussions on how we can end it in our communities. Briefly, the reasons gender-based violence is such a nuisance to all of us is that it affects us all directly and directly. It’s also a stumbling block to our economic growth and therefore, must be dealt with.
By now, I’m sure you already know the forms of gender-based violence, however, if you don’t, you could read through my previous articles on my blog. Imagine a wife whose hands have been chopped off by a raging, abusive husband? Or a child who has been sold out for marriage before completing their primary education? That aside, now imagine the number of people who have been imprisoned because of their ignorance when it comes to crimes of gender-based violence? Or even the men and women who have time and again sexually abused children and are left to walk away scot-free? Don’t you think that this is a problem that affects all of us whether directly or indirectly?
Since the beginning of the year alone, we have seen plenty of Gender-Based Violence type of cases especially sexual violence making headlines. Most of them involving minors. It is high time that we sit down, and figure out how we can stop Gender-Based Violence, each one of us in our capacity.
- Educate people on Gender-based violence. This might probably sound so direct, but I’m just going to go ahead and talk about it. Of course, we cannot end GBV (Gender Based Violence) if people don’t know what it is. It is vital that everyone gets to understand and know what Gender-based violence is, the forms of gender-based violence, how and to whom to report to and finally the legal measures and procedures. From my previous articles, I have explicitly said that anyone can be a victim of violence thus it is essential that we all know about GBV. Also, by having some knowledge on GBV, we can know basic stuff like how to handle forensic evidence. It also makes it easier to talk about it in the case it happens, and there will be no stigma around it if it happens to either gender.
- Strengthen the duty bearers. In this case, these are the policemen who handle cases of Gender-Based Violence. When an ordeal such as sexual violence occurs, a large number of people don’t always first go to the hospital. Instead, they directly go to the police. Either, police have a crucial role to play when a person reports that they have been violated. It is undoubtedly essential that the police are well equipped and trained on how to handle the victims, how to collect and store forensic evidence. They also need to have resources to respond as soon as a victim has filed a case. The policemen are often called to court as witnesses, and thus need to understand court proceedings to avoid ruining the case. That includes, them knowing how to fill the necessary legal documents.
- Increase the number of Government Chemists. We’re still at a place where as a country, we don’t always appreciate forensics yet it is vital in such cases. Once the medical samples are collected, they are then taken to the government chemist for further analysis. Once the investigation is done the prosecutor will use the report. So, the government chemist must at all times be well equipped, and more importantly, they must be accessible to everyone which means, that they must be enough within the country. It is not enough to have government chemist, the staff who work there must be well trained on how to handle, store and analyze samples especially the ones that pertain to gender-based violence.
- Hospitals need to be well resourced. Hospitals often are the shell where victims ultimately go to seek medical help as well as psychological. It’s paramount that hospitals have enough resources that are required to asses a victim, and collect the necessary samples that will be taken to the government chemist. Medical practitioners need to be well trained on how to handle victims of gender-based violence. They need to learn how to collect and package forensic evidence from the victim as well. The PRC form must be well filled as it’s the legal document used in court and therefore, they need to know how to fill it. Again, medics are often called as expert witnesses in the case of sexual violence, and thus, they need to know some legal procedures.
- Empower young people financially. Poverty makes people susceptible to violence. I may not necessarily dig deep into this, but we need to empower young people to have some grounds in their lives financially. I have seen cases where, the dad defiles the daughter, and the mum openly admits that she will not report the dad because he is the breadwinner. There are plenty of such instances in which a person feels that they cannot report their abuser because he/she is the breadwinner. It’s high time to have the money talk and empower young people to be financially independent.