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Rawal: Violence against women ruins the nation's reputation

30 November 2014, 10:21 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ), Kalpana Rawal has said violence against women, particularly the recent stripping and sexual assault cases, portrays bad image to the country, thus, called for immediate and urgent attention to the trends by responsible law enforcement players.

Rawal said such incidents highlight the psyche amongst security actors in regard to crimes against women and cited the 2013 Busia case where six young men gang-raped and left for dead a 16-year-old girl, Liz, but the police ordered the suspects to provide the victim with painkillers and cut grass in front of the police station as punishment.   

“The response of security actors to these incidents illustrates an express and tacit deference amongst those within these institutions to an enduring general attitude that attaches subordinate status to offences against women, particularly sexual offences,” said Rawal.

To address such social abuses against women, the DCJ reiterated that civic education and critical shift in attitude within security institutions are important for positive developments in legislation and jurisprudence towards enhancing security for women.

“The Judiciary, in line with pillar two of its Transformation Framework on transformative leadership and organizational culture, has taken steps to ensure that all judiciary staff is sensitized, trained and informed in this regard,” said Rawal.

 She added that the 2014 Judicial Taskforce on Sexual Harassment established under the auspices of the Office of the DCJ is currently validating the Judiciary’s sexual harassment policy through a comprehensive consultation process.

“Other institutional actors must take similar steps to transform organizational culture in regard to sexual offences, harassment and sensitization to the rights of vulnerable groups including women,” urged Rawal.

“With the correct institutional attitude, allied with a robust legal and policy framework, the security of women can be effectively promoted and protected,” she assured.

However, the DCJ asserted that the nation continues to face acute and complex security challenges ranging from domestic insecurity to transnational crimes such as poaching, narcotic smuggling, piracy, terrorism, money laundering and cybercrime.

“Kenya has made significant strides in security sector reform. However the sustainability requires constitutional fidelity, multi-stakeholder cooperation, effective decentralization of government functions, robust public and community engagement, and regional and international cooperation,” observed Rawal.

Also read: Five arraigned in court for stripping Kayole woman

She said reforms are both most visible and urgent when there are such challenges and held that it is the responsibility of the Judiciary to decide matters according to the law, the facts and the Constitution.

On performing its constitutional legal mandate, the DCJ said the Judiciary should not be bipartisan instead observe balance in delivering justice which involves considering the condition of the victims without compromising the rights of the accused.

“As the pendulum swings between the extremes within the national security and human rights interface, the role of the Judiciary is to ensure that balance, reasonableness and fairness prevail,” said Rawal.

She therefore called on key players in security and legal sectors to foment concrete action on reform where she insisted that any sustainable and effective security sector reform can only be achieved with attention to both grassroots dynamics and the local context.

Rawal was speaking during an AU forum in Ethiopia on the Judiciary’s reflections on Sustainable Security Sector Reforms in Kenya.

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