NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – The Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs will present a revised edition of the Family Bill to the Committee on the Implementation of the Constitution in the next two weeks, before it is tabled in Parliament for debate.
Speaking after opening the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Minister Naomi Shaban said the new Bill seeks to reduce sexual violence against women as well as strengthen chapters surrounding women and property inheritance.
Ms Shaban, who also expressed concern at the rising incidences of sexual abuse against women, argued that the revised law would complement gains made by the Sexual Offences Bill.
“The Sexual Offences Bill says it all. But we also have the Penal Code and the Bill of Rights which doesn’t permit certain discriminations against women. Some cases are even based matrimonial properties and the confusion which is there,” she said.
The Minister also called for a new multi pronged approach in the fight against sexual violence arguing that it required the combined efforts of the public and private sectors.
“Our society has an attitude towards women and it has to change. The approach does not only require the government’s efforts but all stakeholders have to be put on alert and work with the government so that we can stop this abuse,” she said.
The Minister also announced that survivors of sexual violence could access free counselling services at all public hospitals at the district level.
She noted that the government had already partnered with the Nairobi Women’s Hospital to facilitate the same.
“Our police officers have also been taken for specialised training concerning gender based violence because most women who are abused are afraid of reporting their experiences because sometimes they are met by hostile officers,” she explained.
“The government therefore wants to help women come out and put their complaints across,” she said.
The Great Lakes Region workshop seeks to build the capacity of regional leaders from 11 African countries which include: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.
The ICGLR pact will also be reviewed during the ongoing meeting.
United Nations Women Regional Programme Director Diana Ofwona challenged African countries to effectively implement laws aimed at protecting women so as to suppress violence meted against them.
She added that it was important for African governments to increase security in their respective regions so as to prevent conflict.
“Sexual violence is used for combat in times of war so we need to bear this in mind,” she said.
Ms Shaban reiterated Ms Ofwona’s remarks saying women were the biggest casualties of war.