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Leaders raise alarm over rise in violence against women

Scores of leaders in Kitui County have decried increased cases of gender-based violence (GBV) against women and underage girls reported in recent months in the county.

The leaders who included Members of Parliament Mr Charles Nguna of Mwingi West constituency and his Mwingi Central counterpart Gideon Mulyungi, the county woman representative Irene Kasalu, and nominated Senator Beth Syengo urged leaders and GBV activists to jointly work towards minimizing gender crimes.

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Speaking on Friday at the International Women’s Day ceremony held at Nguutani trading center in Mwingi West constituency and presided over by Governor Dr Julius Malombe, leaders mourned the deaths of two GBV victims killed in separate incidents last week in the county.

They also challenged the GBV activists and the two levels of governments and local security agents to come up with strategies that will help to protect and minimize cases of gender-based violence against women, lamenting that the women are heavily affected by the vice.

The county woman representative Irene Kasalu condemned the brutal killings of the two women, recalling that in one of the incidents that happened at Mutha ward in Kitui South constituency, a form three student was sexually abused before she was brutally murdered.

“In the second incident, the victim’s head was chopped off and her body dumped in Kiomo-Kyaithani Ward in Mwingi West constituency in what detectives suspect is a family dispute,” Kasalu said.

The Woman Rep further condemned an incident in Ikanga ward in Kitui South constituency where two sisters, both pupils in a local primary school were impregnated by their neighbour. The two underage girls were however rescued last week by security officers and placed in a children’s home.

“It is not only the girl-child who has been sexually abused, the boy-child is also a victim of GBV as cases of boys having been sodomised have been reported to me,” lamented Kasalu.

Kitui County Commissioner Mr Jipchumba Rutto while speaking during the ceremony which was also attended by Cabinet Secretary for EAC, ASAL’s and Regional Development, Peninah Malonza, warned that stern action will be taken against GBV perpetrators.

The county commissioner promised to provide security support and as well work jointly with local leaders and GBV activists in the fight to curb rising GBV crimes in the county.

Governor Malombe underscored several interventions his government had under taken to date to mitigate against GBV activities in the county.

He hailed women for the role they play in spearheading development in families and at community levels.

Malombe noted that in the mitigation of GBV against women, his government has implemented measures aimed at improving the livelihoods of women and minimized vulnerability to GBV threats.

Among the activities implemented include the empowerment of women, however, the governor also observed the need to re-double efforts to empower women and girls.

“My government has been at the forefront in attaining of the two-thirds gender rule; ensuring both men and women access equal opportunities.

Having women in leadership positions should become the norm, not an exception, and slowly but steadily, Kitui County under my leadership is changing.

Currently, we have 12 women and 24 men as members of the top executive which includes county executives and chief officers. Out of the total number of employees (5,631), 3,438 are women while 2,193 are men (County Data Sheet 2024)” the governor said.

The governor underscored several interventions made towards the provision of clean water and as well as reducing distance women cover to get to the nearest water sources as one of measures to mitigate vulnerability to hardships that women and the girl child encounter while searching for water.

Some of the measures the county government undertook to address water scarcity included initiating several projects including rehabilitation of 43 boreholes across the county.

He directed Health and Sanitation officials to assess World Health Organization standards and ensure the county meets the minimum distance of 5 kilometers a patient is required to cover to reach the nearest health care facility.

Applauding Women for the crucial role they play in agriculture, contributing significantly to food production and rural economies, Dr Malombe assured residents that the county government will continue empowering women in agriculture since its essential for building a world free from hunger and poverty.

“In the effort to support women in Agriculture, the County Government of Kitui has developed irrigation infrastructure for nine micro irrigation schemes in collaboration with the Small Irrigation Value Addition,” the governor said.

The governor singled out some of the agricultural development activities implemented by his government in Mwingi West constituency. Among them is the Project (SIVAP) in four groups (Kauwi, Nguutani, Kyome/Thaana and Mutonguni) benefitting 460 farmers to increase food production.

Threshers and green gram cleaning machines have been distributed to local groups to enhance efficiency and add value to agricultural produce, with Nguutani, Kyome/Thaana, and Kiomo/Kyethani groups reaping the benefits of these interventions.

KNA
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