STATEMENT ON DECLINING STANDARDS OF EQUALITY AND A CULTURE OF DISRESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN KENYA
Good afternoon, Members of the Fourth Estate.
We have called you here today to pronounce ourselves on the state of equality and respect for human rights in the country.
The National Gender and Equality Commission is deeply alarmed by the deteriorating compliance with the principles of equality as enshrined in Article 27 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. This disheartening trend is especially pervasive within the Executive, Legislature, and County Governments, undermining the fundamental rights of all individuals. We issue this edict to demand immediate rectification and accountability.
The Executive branch has demonstrated a glaring disregard for equality principles, as evidenced by the persistent underrepresentation of women in critical decision-making positions. Despite constitutional provisions and affirmative action measures, women continue to face formidable barriers when accessing leadership roles. This not only undermines the principles of equality but also stifles the diverse perspectives and experiences essential for effective governance.
Similarly, the Legislature has fallen short of its responsibility to promote gender equality. Women remain significantly underrepresented in parliament, denying them a fair voice and perpetuating a system that marginalizes their interests and perspectives. This gross lack of gender balance hampers effective addressing of women's issues and further entrenches systemic discrimination.
Regrettably, the decline in standards of compliance with equality principles extends to county governments as well. Numerous instances of disproportionate resource allocation and limited access to vital services have perpetuated inequality, particularly among marginalized communities. Insufficient provisions for healthcare, education, and economic empowerment aggravate the marginalization of these communities and hinder their pursuit of basic rights and opportunities.
However, one recent incident has reached an appalling level of concern. Hon. David Ole Sankok, a Member of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), shamelessly promoted a rape culture at the Osim Country Lodge in Narok. His deplorable description of the lodge as a place to hold women captive and fulfil sexual desires is deeply disturbing. Such statements not only perpetuate harmful attitudes but also contribute to a culture of violence and objectification. We unequivocally condemn this repugnant marketing pitch and demand full accountability for Hon. Sankok's actions.
The National Gender and Equality Commission highlights that Hon. Sankok's statements violate the Sexual Offences Act and the Constitution of Kenya 2010. The Sexual Offences Act criminalizes all forms of sexual assault, including rape and any attempt at non-consensual sexual activities. Furthermore, Article 27 of the Constitution guarantees equality and freedom from discrimination for all individuals, irrespective of their gender. Hon. Sankok's remarks flagrantly undermine these constitutional principles and perpetuate a culture that violates women's rights.
In light of this grave situation, we urgently call upon hospitality industry regulators to investigate the scandalous acts within Osim Country Lodge in Narok County. They must take decisive action to ensure that this establishment operates within the boundaries of the law, respecting the rights and dignity of all individuals. This incident underscores the imperative for stringent regulations governing similar establishments, preventing the propagation of harmful practices and cultures that perpetuate inequality and violence against women.
The examples cited above urgently demand greater commitment and enforcement of the principles of equality enshrined in Article 27 of the Kenyan Constitution. The National Gender and Equality Commission bears the vital responsibility of advocating for gender equality, raising awareness, and holding accountable all relevant institutions. However, addressing this concern requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders to ensure compliance with equality principles, fostering an inclusive society that upholds the rights and dignity of every individual, irrespective of their gender or other defining characteristics. This is not a request, but an edict that mandates immediate action.
Dr. Joyce M. Mutinda, PhD, EBS