Mr Justus Kitetu is a Senior Superintendent of Kenya Police in charge of Kericho East Police Division in Kenya
I witnessed an incident where police officers, who had been assigned to quell protests by some local residents brutally beat up women and children who had been caught in the fray. I was so upset, why would a man beat up defenseless women and children instead of protecting them? From that time, I knew that I had to start sensitizing my officers against mistreatment of women.
We have a lot of rapes and incidents of GBV in this community. The Set up here is that of a mixed settlement including slums and we have a lot of crime taking place. I have witnessed an increase in sexual violence cases. For instance, in April, we had eight reports of rape but in May we had 19 cases. This can be either as a result of the public being more informed or an increase in cases, but we are trying to find out.”
To address the challenges associated with reporting and prosecuting GBV and especially sexual violence cases, the Kericho East Police Division under my leadership has set up focal points and gender desks in all its stations and posts, manned by officers who have been trained on the role. The desks are set up in locations that allow private and confidential processing of the survivor.
When you are dealing with such sensitive cases where there might be fears of stigma, and especially if it is a child involved, we have to be very careful in the interviewing and collecting evidence so as not to cause any more distress. As police officers from the division, we work with local administrators to sensitize the communities about eliminating gender-based violence and protecting the rights and dignity of women and as custodians of the law, we join Nyumba Kumi(Community policing) meetings and chief’s forums to educate the community on the law and why respect of women is so important.
To support prosecution, we have in the Police Division has a group of officers specifically trained on collecting evidence and ensuring that it is well preserved and presented to court. We know a lot of cases are weakened by poor handling of the evidence, so these officers have been trained specifically on collection and preservation of the evidence.
We cannot advance as a community if we cannot treat our women and children with respect and dignity. We should not undermine women, as men we should fight for their rights wherever we are in this country.
Mr Justus Kitetu is a Senior Superintendent of Kenya Police in charge of Kericho East Police Division in Kenya. He has been at this station for 2 years after serving in other parts of the country in a long career of public service. However, it is in Kericho that Mr Kitetu found a new cause, to stand up for the protection of women and to speak out against gender-based violence.