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Collabo in Response to Gender Based Violence

Nairobi, March 162011- The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission and the Gender Violence Recovery Centre have announced their  collaboration in  response to needs of survivors of sexual and gender based violence.

Briefing the media at the TJRC NHIF head office, Commissioner Margaret Shava said the Commission recognised GVRC as experts in this area and was  pleased to have them as partners.

Commissioner Shava said the TJRC’s mandate paid particular attention to sexual based offences, enabling the Commission to specifically address the experiences of women and children which unfortunately often involved sexual and gender based violence.

‘ The Act specifically  enables us to adopt procedures and mechanisms to pay attention to gender based violence. It is in this regard that we have made provisions for survivors of sexual and gender based violence to testify in camera if they so wish. Counselling and access to medical treatment is also  necessary so as not to re-traumatise victims hence the critical nature of this collaboration,’ Ms Shava pointed out.

Commissioner Shava added it was important  to attend to survivors of  because sexual violence is increasingly a tool employed in conflict – against both women and men, although women  were more vulnerable.

‘We have received statements of women who were sexually assaulted for example where there was mass torture and or extra-judicial killings. We have also received statements from men who were either sodomised and or castrated during exercises to flush out militia from various regions in the country,’ Ms Shava said .

Ms. Grace Wangechi,  Executive Director  of GVRC said they would provide counselling services and any necessary medical support needed at the TJRC’s hearings countrywide.

‘ The GVRC will  receive referral for witnesses requiring treatment in regard to injuries received as a result of the post election violence. However, the process will require support , especially financial resources to enable the centre  to mobilize it’s counsellors, volunteers and medical personnel for the witnesses. We are therefore calling upon the donors, individuals  and institutions of good will, to come in and support  our efforts  to promote the healing, dignity and reconciliation of Kenya,’ Ms Wangechi said.

Ms Shava said of  the 29,000 statements so far received, 2% are solely in regard to sexual violence.  This represents 580 victims who learnt or are learning to survive, with the violations

She added that in the northern region where Commission shall begin its hearings, rape cases formed 6% of issues women made statements about whereas it was 1% in regard to men.  These statistics reflect both local and global trends where there is under-reporting of sexual offences because of stigma associated with it. Ms Shava said the Commission had already identified over 20 women in need of counselling and treatment, including for fistula as a result of SGBV.

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