There is need to streamline Sexual Gender-Based Violence reporting processes in the Public Transport Sector

By Evans Nyagwara

Gender-based violence (SGBV) refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequalities, the abuse of power and harmful norms. It is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening and health and protection issue. These acts can be physical, emotional or verbal. The public transport sector is not devoid of such violence, especially against women. Women living with disability and the elderly (55yrs old and above) are more vulnerable. This group needs special care and attention, which the public transport sector lacks.

According to available data, the major types of violence witnessed in this sector include: sexual harassment, dispute over payment, forceful eviction from the vehicle among others. These are perpetrated more often but are hardly noted since many are not aware. A recent research by the Kenyatta University- Women’s Economic Empowerment (KU-WEE) Hub revealed that most of these practices are perpetrated by conductors (makangas) and drivers at 84.3% and 9.4% respectively. According to the same research, conducted in conjunction with the UN Women, a whopping 69.2% of these incidences occur in the vehicle and the pickup/drop off points. This posts a great challenge to the safety and security of the women users of the public transport.

However, only 8% of such cases are reported while 91% are completely not reported. Furthermore, only 13% of the reported cases are reported to the police. Many respondents reported to their friends and family members. Why are the cases not reported as much? Why are many not reported to the police? It is evident that many prefer other avenues to police. There are certain bottlenecks when it comes to reporting such cases. These challenges may include lack of political will and leadership, difficulty in storing evidences and getting witnesses, limited resources and infrastructure, lack of knowledge and skills among police and security actors, poor communication and collaboration between security actors and other sectors, the dominance of informal justice system and customary law, discriminatory socio-cultural norms and gender stereotypes among others.

Therefore, there is need to streamline the reporting process and make it more gender sensitive, accessible, affordable and reliable. This calls for gender sensitive policies and a proper implementation of the same.  Vehicles must be friendly and conducive for all users, including women, children, persons with disability and the elderly. Survivors of sexual gender-based violence need both legal support and psychological support. This support must be guaranteed in all institutions and at all levels. Justice should be served at all time since this will build the trust of the public on the police, consequently encouraging more survivors to report abuse.

The writer is an intern at the Kenyatta University Women’s Economic Empowerment (KU-WEE) Hub


To read more on the Study on Women and Public Transport in Nairobi, click here


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