Raila piles pressure on Wako

March 30, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday directed the Attorney General to furnish his office with an update of all pending bills pertaining to women’s human rights.

He said the information should indicate the maximum time frame within which such bills shall be brought into Parliament for debate and passage into legislation.

The Premier also demanded a comprehensive report on the number of cases that have been prosecuted in respect to sexual and gender based violence including those from post election conflict, reasons for non prosecution and where matters were dismissed by trial courts, reasons for the said dismissal.

He was speaking in Kibera when he launched the Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness, (CREAW) an initiative aimed at accessing justice for women at community level.

He said he would take personal responsibility to locate the gender agenda high in government and directed the Minister for gender to give his office regular updates on progress made towards mainstreaming gender in all ministries.

Mr Odinga also renewed calls for urgent constitutional, judicial and police reforms, saying the reforms, especially in the police department would protect women and men from Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

“Fundamental reforms in the country will deal with gender violence. Unreliability of police services brings fear of reporting gender based violence,” he said.

Mr Odinga said police laxity had paralysed protection of gender rights since there were no avenues for investigating gender based violence in the police department.

He called on Kenyans to support the reforms to ensure gender equality in the country, indicating that some laws in the country were discriminatory leaving women to lag behind in crucial matters in the society.

Mr Odinga singled out current laws on inheritance, which are yet to recognise women’s rights to inherit property.

The Premier expressed concern that men were also silently becoming victims of gender-based violence and shied away from reporting the cases.

He said it was important not to overlook men when discussing matters of gender.

“The office opened here is not a police post for men to be held; it is a centre for guarding men and women’s rights. Men (who are) abused by women should also report,” he said.

The Prime Minister was also quick to challenge men against battering their wives. “Why are you beating up your wife….why do you beat her up like a dog, just to show your strength?”

Mr Odinga further asked the society to embrace a change of attitude and respect the family unit by keeping violence out of homes.

The Kibera SGBV branch is one of the outreach programmes intended to improve women’s human rights in the sprawling slum by creating awareness and encouraging the residents to report cases of gender violence.

The centre will also provide women residents of Kibera with free services of a lawyer, counselor and other community services and also train community paralegals to undertake community education.

The Prime Minister later inaugurated a new academic block at the Raila centre in Kibera.

He warned against the introduction of politics in schools noting educational institutions should not be politicised.

“Schools must be given room and autonomy to run professionally, those who want to play politics should seek other arenas,” he said.


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