Gender Based Violence forum with Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer women
‘Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is violence directed at an individual based on biological sex, gender identity or socially defined norms of masculinity and femininity. It includes but not limited to; Sexual, physical, psychological, and emotional abuse, Sexual harassment, Child marriage or Intimate Partner Violence. Gender based violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violations. It knows no social, economic class, sexual orientation and/or cultural confinement. Police play an important role in society. They are responsible for maintaining peace and order, upholding the rule of law and performing their duties with sensitivity and regard for members of the community, however, homophobia is still strife in Kenya, and reporting cases of GBV among LBQ women to the police might just be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
LBQ women face disproportionate levels of violence at the hands of both strangers and intimate partners. Sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sexual harassment can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. Thanks to American Jewish World Service, we had a chance of bringing LBQ women for a session on GBV forum with the police to try and explain how policemen handle cases and thereby see why they don’t or are reluctant to handle cases of sexual minority women.
Barriers to Assistance LBQ women face barriers to seeking help that are unique to their sexual orientation and gender identity. These include:
- Legal definitions of domestic violence that exclude same-sex couples
- Dangers of “outing” oneself when seeking help and the risk of rejection and isolation from family, friends, and society
- The lack of, or survivors not knowing about, LGBT-specific or LGBT-friendly assistance resources
- Potential homophobia from staff of service providers or from non-LGBT survivors of IPV with whom they may interact
- Low levels of confidence in the sensitivity and effectiveness of law enforcement officials and courts for LGBT people
GBV is a violation of human rights. Addressing GBV as a human rights issue empowers survivors of gender-based violence as active rights-holders.