Women leaders from Wajir have cautioned elders against using Maslaha system in solving Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases.
Maslaha is a traditional alternative system of dispute and conflict resolution mostly used in North Eastern counties.
The women argue that it contributes to the rise in SGBV cases in the region since it denies victims justice.
They were speaking on Monday when they rallied their support behind a Form Three student who was allegedly defiled by an assistant chief from Arbeqaramso sub-location.
The administrator allegedly recorded naked videos and pictures of the victim, which he used to blackmail the minor into committing the act several times.
The assistant chief, who also acted as the victim’s guardian, shared her pictures in a WhatsApp group, triggering outrage across the county.
The administrator is said to have admitted committing the act, and was released on a Sh10,000 cash bail.
OUT OF COURT
The women leaders argue that there are individuals who plan to settle the case out of court after the chief failed to turn up in court on Monday.
They have expressed concern on the way the case was handled, calling on the authorities to speed up the process of charging the suspect.
Nominated Wajir MCA Meimuna Said called on the elders to desist from using the Maslaha system in resolving SGBV cases.
“We are appealing to the elders in Wajir County to look into the welfare of women and girls. We are destroying our girls’ lives by convening barazas to resolve issues. This encourages more violence against women and girls,” she said.
Ms Said asked the County Commissioner to fire the administrator to serve as an example to others planning to commit such acts,” she said.
Ms Rukiya Abdullahi, the chairlady of Maendeleo ya Wanawake, called on the police to avail the perpetrator in court.
“We urge the government to come clear on this issue. We know investigations are ongoing, but today the suspect was supposed to be here for plea, they can’t tell us he cannot appear in court,” she said.
Ms Shamsa Mohamed Omar, a nominated MCA, condemned the administrator’s action calling on the government to ensure justice is achieved.
“We appeal to the law enforcing agencies that the chief must be brought before the court, we want him behind bars,” she said.
Ms Halima Mohamed, Wajir County Gender director said they were shocked that an administrator supposed to be on the forefront in the fight against GBV became the perpetrator, calling for stern action against the suspect.
“Chiefs are the representatives of government and are entrusted with protecting the community and should not be involved in such acts,” she said.
Ms Fatuma Yusuf Abdullahi, Wajir County Civil Society Consortium chairperson said women in the county would ensure justice prevails for the victim.
“Whether elders sit or not, the case is no longer in their hands. We ask the County Commissioner to ensure the chief is brought before the court for justice,” she said.
Ms Abdullahi warned any elder participating in traditional negotiations for such cases of dire consequences.
“Any elder who sits for Maslaha will carry his own cross for violating the right of the child and making income out of sexual abuse cases,” she said.
Ms Maryam Abdi Mohamud said the Maslaha system has destroyed lives of many girls in the region.
“Lots of lives have been destroyed in the name of Maslaha. We are all Kenyans and we should follow the law,” she said.