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Hotline 1195 launched to reduce sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya

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Thursday, 21st February 2013 marked another day in the history of Kenya through the launch of two vital tools to end Gender Based Violence – a National toll-free Hotline 1195 and a Referral mechanism. A Data Sheet was also introduced at the launch that gives sex disaggregated data on all forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Kenya. Several UN agencies participating in the GoK-UN JP GEWE worked together on this initiative in partnership with the former Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Development, Healthcare Assistance Kenya (HAK), USAID through the International Rescue Committee, GIZ, Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) and key mobile service providers.

“Before I came to this launch event, I actually tried out the Hotline number and the response/service was quick and excellent. The gender data sheet will also help the government in developing informal policies related to gender based violence in Kenya” – Chairman, National Gender and Equality Commission.

It was a lively event starting with a procession from Uhuru Park to the KICC. The Chief Guests spoke from the heart at the launch ceremony and artists provided entertainment in the form of live music as well as skits on the various forms of SGBV in Kenya. The skits touched on heartrending topics but were performed in such a way that they got the message across while keeping the audience amused. One of the skits was enacted from a family life scene on SGBV and the perception of some men about their womenfolk. Madam Beatrice Nduta – Deputy Police Commissioner from the National Police Service briefed the audience on the procedure to report a case of rape or defilement. She urged all parents to educate their children on SGBV issues instead of the world teaching them through a harsher lesson in life.

The Hotline 1195 was set up to provide interactive information and counseling services to survivors of SGBV across Kenya on available response services and on how to prevent/treat infections of HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Approximately 35 calls per day are received on the hotline which is being run by male and female volunteer tele-counsellors to assist survivors of both genders. Through the Hotline, HAK has supported around 2500 women and children survivors of SGBV from various counties across the country. The Hotline could not have come at a more crucial time as it supported the efforts of the Government, civil society and media in establishing emergency preparedness measures ahead of the March 2013 General Elections. As a next step and to make the Hotline more efficient and sustainable, UNICEF is in the process of signing a partnership agreement with HealthCare Assistance Kenya under the JP GEWE umbrella.

“For me, the turning point was coming across a terrible defilement case of a five-month old baby at the hands of her own father. This was the decisive moment for me as I realized that I had to upscale the work we do” – Ms. Fanis Lisiagali during an interview with the JP GEWE Secretariat.

The hotline was the brainchild of Ms. Fanis Lisiagali – Executive Director, HAK and a group of volunteers that started in 2008. To expand the initiative, the SGBV Emergency Preparedness Network that consists of Government, Civil Society and UN agencies worked tirelessly to formally launch the helpline and referral mechanism. As part of the launch, a two-day training workshop was held to guide county SGBV focal points on emergency preparedness and how to use the Hotline. It also provided the various GBV stakeholders in the country with an opportunity to improve their coordination, elaborate further on ways for clear referral and develop SGBV preventative messages which were transmitted during the election period.

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