ASIYA MOHAMMED, founder of Conflict Women Limited, says a comprehensive national policy on gender-based and sexual violence is long overdue

Founder of Conflict Women Limited, Asiya Mohammed, says it is time that perpetrators of gender based and sexual violence face serious penalties for their behaviour.

Speaking on The Morning Brew, today, Asiya Mohammed argues that the current justice system continues enabling the perpetrators of gender based, sexual and domestic violence, because it takes so long to bring them to account.

She says that leaves them more opportunities to continue abusing their spouses and children.

According to the women’s activist, swift punishment may be the only deterrent to such behaviour.

“We need to make sure that they are receiving the full brunt of the law. Punishment will deter them,” she argues. “For example, in Mukeisha’s father’s case—the assault and charge for domestic violence were pending since 2011. That is absolutely unacceptable.”

And the Conflict Women founder is making another call for government to activate a comprehensive national strategy to deal effectively with gender-based and sexual violence in this country.

She says the silo-approach adopted by many government ministries and agencies, is not helping those who really need their services.

According to Asiya Mohammed, Cabinet has seen so many strategy documents dealing with gender based and sexual violence over the decades, but has failed to act on them.

She even points to the most recent version of such a strategy which was presented to cabinet last month, yet there has been no word forthcoming on whether it will be acted upon.

“What we do know is that these policies and strategies are not being approved, time and time again, and there is a cost to this,” she points out. “Helpless parents who feel like they cannot navigate the court system. Or survivors who do not even have enough money to afford a lawyer. They have to go to court to fight for custody for their child and they are so terrified, because they could be abused and threatened, and there is no one to protect them.”

Asiya Mohammed says at present, the burden of helping victims and survivors of gender-based and sexual violence is resting on civil society.

She says a proper policy would streamline all the government ministries and agencies—including the justice system—who are charged with handling gender-based and sexual violence issues.