By Samuel Kisika
County governments will be required to employ enough social workers in County Referral hospitals to help survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV).
This follows the launch of the revised Gender Based Violence Guidelines launched on November 25, 2020 by Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia.
The guidelines also require county governments to create special GBV recovery centres in every health facility to provide services to survivors.
Speaking during the launch, Prof. Kobia said social workers deployed in these hospitals will serve as a link between the GBV survivor and the community in reintegrating the them to the society.
“The social workers should continuously advocate against GBV at the community level to prevent it and ensure that the survivors report the cases and seek medical attention if needed,” states the 25-page guidelines.
Social workers are professionals specialising in improving the overall well-being of communities and people. The target groups are mostly the oppressed, those living in poverty and the marginalised or vulnerable like girls and women.
County governments will need to organise outreach initiatives for social workers, health workers or volunteers to track unreported gender based violence cases.
GBV survivors, the civil society groups and women rights defenders have been in the forefront of organising GBV outreach programmes in sensitizing communities against the vice, helping those affected, preventing and reporting the cases.
Gender Based Violence particularly against girls and women is not only a major problem in Kenya, but also across the world, exacerbated by effects of government measures put in place to control the spread of Covid-19.
For instance, the national GBV 1195 helpline in Kenya recorded over 1,100 complaints in June from 86 in February before the country reported its first COVID-19 case in mid-March.
The latest United Nations Women report indicates that more than 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in 2019. It also states that less than 40 per cent of women who experience gender violence report or seek help while the rest remain quiet.
Locally, the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of 2014 states that 45 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical abuse while 14 per cent have experienced sexual violence.
Therefore, social workers deployed in county referrals across the 47 devolved units, thus, would provide technical support on relevant areas of care to the GBV patient, family care giver and the community health worker attending to the survivor daily.
Nonetheless, only accredited persons with basic professional training in trauma counselling will be allowed to offer psychosocial care to sexual violence survivors.
“They should be members of an accredited counselling association such as Kenya Counselling Association (KCA), Kenya Psychologists Association (KPA) or be recognized by Ministry of Health as trauma counsellors,” reads the guidelines.
Accredited professionals to offer counselling the GBV survivors include nurses, psychological counsellors, social workers and psychiatrists.
A health management team in a facility is to put in place the hospital committee, social workers, nursing officer and GBV recovery centre supervisor in coordinating provision of gender based services to survivors.
To ensure that GBV matters are properly addressed at the grassroots, county governments are required to develop a joint monitoring and evaluation framework and database.
The GBV guidelines also recommends county governments to establish a special inter-departmental county executive committee members (CECM) panel on gender based violence.
The CECM panel’s membership are to be drawn from county departments, county commissioner, GBV recovery centre coordinator and security agents.