Flatten the curve on SGBV in Kenya

#ZuiaZogo | Stop SGBV Campaign

Sexual Gender Based Violence is a serious problem in Kenya. About 39 per cent of women and girls aged above 15 years have experienced some form of SGBV.

One in four of them experiencing such violence each year, with Kenya losing approximately Sh46 billion annually due to SGBV.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke in Kenya in February 2020, The Ministry of Public Service and Gender Affairs reported a 42 per cent increase in SGBV cases in March 2020.  

According to the National Council on Administration of Justice, 35.8% of all criminal matters reported in the last two weeks of March 2020 were sexual abuse cases.


Sexual Gender Based Violence and COVID-19 in Kenya

The COVID-19 crisis has affected millions of people across the globe bringing with it death, fear and uncertainty about the future. The ripple effects of this global pandemic have undoubtedly been felt by each one of us, but some more than others. Specifically, minorities and other vulnerable groups. Rise of SGBV abuse is a global concern as victims have been locked up with abusive partners in lockdowns or curfew. Economic hardships due to lost jobs or unpaid leave, is also having a mental toll on household providers. Many cases undoubtedly go unreported as curfews and lockdowns continue to be implemented across the country.

The Ministry of Public Service and Gender Affairs launched a free toll hotline number: 1195 in January 2020 to respond to the rising cases of SGBV. Since it’s launch, reports of the number of cases has kept rising. This number could be higher as many more cases go unreported due to the stigma associated with SGBV.

The curve on the number of SGBV cases keeps rising…

  • SGBV Cases

Let’s flatten the curve on SGBV in Kenya

The Grassroots Gender Justice Network consists of grassroots organisations working on achieving gender justice in their communities. The Gender Justice Network is calling upon the Government of Kenya to respond urgently to this growing crisis.


The network needs you to amplify a petition to the government by clicking the TAKE ACTION button below.

Learn more about the petition’s key asks.



That the National Emergency Response Committee declares protection structures and services for victims of gender-based violence as essential and create a rapid response mechanism for the referral of survivors to services during this period including access to fully resourced and functioning gender desks in all police stations.

  • GBV remains one of the most under-reported crimes in Kenya due to the stigma associated with it, power imbalance in homes as in many instances, the survivor relies on the perpetrator for income, but also due to the disfunction of gender desks in police stations and the lack of rapid response services. Inefficiency at police stations hurts rape, violence victims
  • Currently the GBV service providers do not have essential services status. Some of the service providers’ that offer rapid response are unable to work past seven pm due to the imposed curfew.


Urgently address the dire need for functioning rescue centres by expanding the capacity and resourcing of current rescue centres and establishing new ones in every county to ensure that survivors have the safety and help they need.

  • The Protection Against Domestic Violence Act 2015, Article 50 (9) directs Parliament to enact legislation providing for the protection, rights and welfare of victims of offenses. However, there is currently no verifiable information on any state run shelters in Kenya.
  • The Protection Against Domestic Violence Act fails to provide for the creation of state run rescue shelters. NGEC raised this issue and its intention to seek an amendment but there is no report on any progress on this.
  • Currently the database on rescue shelters is not updated and information is difficult to find online.
  • The rescue shelters currently in existence are struggling due to a spike in GBV cases leading to more survivors needing assistance than they can accommodate, this was verified by three privately run shelters we contacted.
  • Rescue shelters also afraid of taking on new survivors due to the COVID related health risk they may pose to those already staying at the shelter.
  • Kenyan officials visited Jordan in 2018 to see other country’s experiences with running shelters in a bid to opening its first state run shelter. This is yet to happen. https://ec.europa.eu/trustfundforafrica/all-news-and-stories/way-opening-its-first-state-run-shelter-victims-human-trafficking-kenyan_en


That the judiciary accelerates the hearing of SGBV cases in order to ensure access to justice for all survivors.


  • In March, there was a 42% increase in GBV reported cases.
  • According to the Chief Justice, there has been an increase on child abuse, particularly defilement cases.
  • 35.8% of all criminal matters reported in the last two weeks of march were sexual abuse cases.-National Council on Administration of Justice


That the Ministry of Health ensures that all frontline health workers and Community Health volunteers are trained on gender based violence response and have access to an updated database of GBV service providers to enable survivors to access support when needed.

  • Health workers are in a unique position to help survivors of gender-based violence. Not only are they the ones who may be called upon to set a broken bone or treat a burn, they also have the opportunity to be advocates, to help and refer survivors of gender-based violence, and to remove the taboo around talking about violence in the course of providing routine care.
  • Many of the numbers on the current service providers referral database are either wrong or not functioning


Incorporate vital information on sexual and gender based violence and child protection into the daily updates, SMS and media messaging as well as in the delivery of educational curricular to increase awareness and response.

Why use SMS?

20.6 million of individuals aged 3 years and above owned a mobile phone. Out of this, 10.4 million are women while 10.2 million are men. We will be able to reach more persons in rural populations as well as urban populations. According to the KNBS data, mobile phone ownership is highest in rural areas (12 million) compared to urban areas (eight million) with Nairobi County leading in the number of mobile phone owners at four million. At the same time, 190,000 children over the four years own a mobile phone, and 317,843 over the age of 75 years own a mobile phone.

Why include in online messaging?

one in five Kenyans has access to the internet

22.6 per cent of individuals aged 3 years and above use the internet while 10.4 per cent use a computer.

Why Use TV?

A functional television set was the popular household asset owned by 40.7 per cent of households, with households in urban areas accounting for a larger share (62.5 per cent) compared to those in rural areas (26.9 per cent)

Average television viewership increased 335,000 viewers, from 6.76 million to 7.09 million, after GoK issued country-wide COVID-19 preventative measures. GeoPoll’s research experts believe the shifts in viewership trends on television were driven by a fervor for news updates on COVID-19’s impact on Kenya and the larger global community.


Why use radio?

The available radio audience in the first 2 weeks of March 2020 was 10.79 million listeners. This listenership dropped down 66,000 listeners to 10.72 million on from 16th – 29th March. Despite this drop, radio still secures a few million more listeners on average than television secures viewers, regardless of the COVID-19 related shifts in consumption behaviour.


That the senate to sets up an inquiry on the state of isolation centres and quarantine facilities countrywide to ensure they comply with minimum human rights standards and are conducive to the needs of all persons, including women, children and persons living with disabilities.

  • So far, information on the number of quarantine facilities, particularly at county level is scattered, and there is little to no information on the state of the facilities. For example, a county focused website reported that Migori County has 35 isolation centres and two quarantine facilities – one in Nyatke and at the County referral hospital, the same information cannot be found on the ministry’s website.
  • The most updated list of government approved quarantine facilities only covers Nairobi and Mombasa and has 57 facilities based in Nairobi and Mombasa, most of which are private institutions and hotels and will require payment. A comprehensive list of quarantine facilities in other counties is not available/accessible online.
  • The state of quarantine facilities so far, as shared on media reports, indicate challenges like insufficient bathrooms, insufficient beds and beddings, as well as overcrowding in facilities.
  • By the end of March, the government had more than 50 quarantine facilities at hotels, hostels at schools and universities, which cost between $20 (£16) and $100 a night.
  • Some of these have now closed – but at least five are subject to a third period of quarantine. Out of 2,336 people put into quarantine, 425 remain there.