, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 11 – Kenyan women have taken issue with recent plans by government to legalise local brews saying it will facilitate moral decay.
Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation(MYWO) chairperson Rukia Subow said it would increase violence against women and their children and that it would also derail the youth from development activities.
Ms Subow said the government should instead focus on eradicating drug abuse in the country.
“I think they shouldn’t (legalise these brews); local brews are wrong. There are many unemployed young people in this country and they indulge in these cheap brews which is bad for their health and their minds. The police, the people themselves and the community policing programme should be strengthened so that people can fight it (local brews),” she said.
She also said MYWO was concerned with the recent killings of women by their husbands in various parts of Kenya that had so far seen three women killed in the past 11 days.
She attributed the killings to alcoholism and drugs, with the most recent incident occurring in Nyeri where a woman and her children were left dead.
“What is happening? We are really worried and would like to know the root cause of these killings. We are getting so many reports and the killings are also being reported in the media. This trend is very worrying. We also know that these people perform these killings under the influence of alcohol and drugs,” she said.
She proposed that the government embarks on empowering women so that they protect themselves from abusive relationships.
“Women should be sensitised to know how to protect themselves and their children when their husbands come home intoxicated,” she said.
Ms Subow who was speaking during the final day to mark activism against women violence in Kenya added that the killings were mainly taking place in the rural areas as well as slums indicating a link to poverty.
“This is happening in places where the poverty level is very high and when these men, who are under the influence, go back to their house and find that there is no food or anything they take out all these frustrations on the women,” she said.
Violence against women increased significantly during the post election violence period especially in camps for Internally Displaced Persons. Nairobi Women’s Hospital Gender Based Recovery Unit reported counselling 1,710 survivors in the IDP camps. Between December 27, 2007 and February 29, 2008 the unit reported that it treated 443 survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and 80 percent were rape or defilement cases.
While the number of women reporting abuse to hospitals and the police is on the rise, the vast majority of the cases still go untreated and undocumented. Cultural norms, lack of awareness, pressure from community and family members and widespread insensitivity on the part of officials all contribute to the fact that most women suffer in silence.
But GBV is not limited to war zones. Girls and women solely because of their sex, are targets for violence at every point in their lives. The forms vary from: female genital mutilation, to inadequate healthcare and nutrition for girls, to child marriage, wife beating, trafficking, wife inheritance, neglect and ostracism of widows.