Sexual Offences Act Implementation Workshop

Naivasha, Kenya | May 25-27, 2011

When conducting preliminary interviews regarding sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Kenya in the summer of 2010, HRC researchers heard one recurring theme from local stakeholders: accountability for this violence in Kenya suffers from a lack of cross-sectoral coordination. Government and civil society leaders tasked with responding to SGBV from all sectors expressed the need to come to the table together to better implement Kenya’s 2006 Sexual Offences Act. For this reason, the Sexual Violence and Accountability Project agreed to gather a local steering committee and convene a cross-sectoral meeting in May, 2011.

Workshop Steering Committee:

For several months, the Sexual Violence and Accountability Project team worked closely with a steering committee comprised of a cross-section of key stakeholders in Kenya's fight against sexual and gender-based violence:

Task Force on the Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act
FIDA-Kenya

Liverpool VCT Treatment and Care
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya)
Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW)
Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW)
AIDS Free World

The Workshop

The Sexual Offences Act (SOA) Implementation Workshop took place in Naivasha, Kenya from May 25-27, 2011.

The Workshop gathered over eighty stakeholders from all over Kenya to prioritize critical breakages in implementation of the SOA and outline action items for improved cross-sectoral response.  Esteemed Kenyan leaders Hon. Mr. Justice Philip Waki, Hon. Lady Justice (Rtd.) Effie Owuor, and then-Attorney General, Hon. Amos Wako, offered welcoming address to the participants. The intensive agenda then provided an opportunity to address both individual capacity challenges and sector linkages, as well as critical issues such as witness protection, children, refugees and IDPs, and response to SGBV in emergency situations.

Outcomes:

1. Development of priorities and action items: By the end of three days, participants had agreed on several steps towards improved, integrated response to sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya.

2. Relationship-building and communication: Representatives from both government and civil society, from health and legal sectors, and from Nairobi and the provinces met face-to-face and established new relationships for improved understanding, communication, and coordination.

3. Preliminary Recommendations Outline and Post-Workshop Report: HRC quickly produced a preliminary outline of action items and recommendations to assist Workshop participants in immediate coordination. In November, 2011, HRC will launch the full Post-Workshop Report, which will present the full scope of Workshop discussion and overall conclusions.

4. Funded Collaboration: Following HRC's preliminary outline of agreed priorities and action items, steering committee members collaborated on a grant application to the UN Trust Fund for Women to support civil society’s role in SOA implementation.  The application was granted in July, 2011.

5. Statutory Amendment: Kenya’s then-Attorney General, Hon. Amos Wako, was impressed by the Workshop’s findings. He urged the Workshop steering committee to draft statutory amendment to the SOA, based on the group’s findings. This “Sexual Offences Act Amendment Bill” is currently under consideration by the Kenyan National Assembly. If passed, it will eliminate problematic provisions such as the Act’s “false allegation” penalty. More importantly, the amendment would create a national, funded standing body with full authority to enforce implementation of the Act.

The full Sexual Offences Act Implementation Workshop Report will be available to the public by early 2012.

The worshop was primarily sponsored by the Open Society Institute's International Women’s Program, with critical supplemental funding from GIZ, the Global Fund for Women, and AIDS Free World.

For more information, please contact Project Director Kim Thuy Seelinger.