Public hearings on the Kakamega County Sexual and Gender Based Violence Control and Management Bill, 2023 and Kakamega County Trade and Markets (amendment) Bill, 2022 were held on Thursday by the County Assembly Committees on Health and Sanitation Services and that on Trade, Tourism and Industrialization respectively at the County Social Hall. The Gender Based Violence Control Bill,2023 provides measures for the protection, treatment, counseling, support and care of the victims of gender based violence. According the Health Committee Vice-Chairperson, Hon. Boniface Mabuka once the proposed law is enacted into law, it will increase gender (both male and female) awareness on their rights; improve knowledge on types, extent of violence and its consequences in affected areas in the County. County residents present were of the view that gender based violence undermines a person’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem and urged county legislators (MCAs) to advocate for freedom from violence. They also called for the establishment of mechanisms on how to economically empower sexual and gender based violence victims, which will help provide reporting and referral systems.

County government recently commissioned a Gender Based Violence Center in Shinyalu at a cost of Ksh 7.9 Million in addition to the one in Lugari. According to the plan the latter will be completed and be operationalized this year to help survivors stay safe as they wait for the legal processes. Reports from the County Department of Health, show that in 2021 over 500 children aged between 10 and 14 years were pregnant while the total number of teenage mothers was 14,768 with most these girls being survivors of sexual abuse. On the other hand, Trade and Markets (amendment) Bill, 2022 seeks to amend the Kakamega County Trade and Markets Act, 2022 in order to improve efficiency in regulating trading activities and management of markets . This is in line with the Governor’s agenda that aims at promoting business growth and creating conducive environment for businesses.

This, according to the Trade Committee Chairperson Hon. Robert Makhanu will lead to wealth creation in the County. Makhanu implored participants to critically scrutinize the document and enrich it to ensure that the objectives and purposes of the county markets are fully met. The hearings brought together participants from the civil society groups, business community among other stakeholders across the county. The committees are expected to retreat and compile all-inclusive reports before presenting them to the House for deliberations and adoption.