The Sh5.7 million rescue centre project in Vihiga County will be ready in the next three months, officials have said.
The assurance by Gender CAS Rachel Shebesh, Women Representative Beatrice Adagala and County Commissioner Ochillo Oyugi, comes a month after Principal Magistrate Samson Ongeri called for the establishment of the facility.
Mr Ongeri had on April 12, said courts in the county were grappling with more than 156 gender-based violence (GBV) defilement and rape cases, but was concerned most of them did not get to full trial due to intimidation and lack of witness protection. He said a rescue centre would be a safe haven for victims.
“There is need for a rescue centre. Most of the time, defiled children cannot go back home. They need a holding place to enable them not get intimidated during the court process,” Mr Ongeri said.
And yesterday, while on a tour of the Vihiga GBV and Rescue Centre under construction at Vokoli in Sabatia, Ms Shebesh, Ms Adagala and Mr Oyugi said funds have been availed to ensure the facility is complete and operational by August.
The project is funded through the National Government Affirmative Action Fund, which is under the patronage of women representatives.
“The centre is 90 per cent complete and we have given a strong undertaking to complete it in three months,” said Mr Oyugi.
He noted that the facility will be an avenue to protect victims and help with witness protection.
“The government policy is that GBV cases be prosecuted to ensure justice is delivered. The fear and intimidation at home make people withdraw cases, leading to dismissal of cases that are winnable,” added Mr Oyugi.
He directed chiefs and their assistants, elders and religious groups to help in exposing GBV cases.
Speaking after inspecting the facility, Ms Shebesh warned GBV perpetrators saying the government has raised the red flag.
“We are focused on eliminating the cases. This centre is vital in helping us achieve this. We will not tolerate perpetrators of GBV,” she said.
Ms Adagala said the centre that started under her administration, is key in ensuring victims are safe and get justice.
She said increasing cases of social ills in the county had jolted her administration, necessitating the construction of the facility, which sits on two acres of land.
The facility, whose construction commenced in July, 2020, is the first in the county that has largely relied on centres in Kisumu and Kakamega counties to serve its people.
It will house offices, washrooms, dormitories and an ICT centre to meet modern demands. It also has a training hall where victims will learn technical skills.