𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐌𝐎𝐍𝐖𝐄𝐀𝐋𝐓𝐇 𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐋𝐈𝐀𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐀𝐑𝐈𝐀𝐍𝐒 𝐔𝐍𝐈𝐓𝐄𝐃 𝐀𝐆𝐀𝐈𝐍𝐒𝐓 𝐆𝐄𝐍𝐃𝐄𝐑 𝐁𝐀𝐒𝐄𝐃 𝐕𝐈𝐎𝐋𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄 𝐀𝐍𝐃 𝐌𝐎𝐃𝐄𝐑𝐍 𝐒𝐋𝐀𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐘
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association – UK (CPA-UK) in collaboration with the Parliament of Kenya, concluded a three-day workshop dubbed Strengthening Parliamentary action to address Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Modern Slavery in Global Supply Chains."
The workshop was officially opened on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, by Chairperson of CPA-UK Rt. Hon. Dame Miller, and Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Moses Wetang’ula. It brought together delegates from Parliaments of Gambia, Lesotho, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Jamaica, New South Wales, Jersey, Nova Scotia, St. Helena, and the United Kingdom.
In his address, Speaker Wetang'ula acknowledged the statistics from the Global Estimates that say approximately 50 million individuals are ensnared in the clutches of modern slavery, trapped in the misery of forced labour or coerced into marriages against their will.
“The work that lies before us carries an unprecedented significance that cannot be overstated. In our increasingly interconnected global economy, the goods we purchase and the services we consume are often the products of intricate supply chains that stretch across nations and continents. While these supply chains drive our economies and offer the promise of prosperity, they have also, regrettably, served as a source of exploitation and suffering for far too many individuals, particularly women and girls," said Hon. Wetang’ula.
Rt. Hon. Dame Miller underscored the need for collaboration stating that the complexity of GBV and modern slavery demands a multi-disciplinary approach. No single institution, no matter how powerful, can tackle these issues unaided.
Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya, Lady Justice Martha Koome on her part reiterated the role of the Judiciary which has developed a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Court Strategy, Child Justice Strategy and established specialized SGBV and Children’s courts.
Justice Koome recognized that legislation provides the legal framework and standards for protecting the rights of the victims, prosecuting the offenders, and providing remedies and services. Other laws are the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act, the Children Act, the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, the Victim Protection Act, and the National Policy on Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence.
"While passage of laws is pivotal, effective implementation and enforcement are equally crucial. Ensuring practical application is critical for the success of these legislative measures," she said.
The same sentiments echoe by the Chairperson of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Hon. George Murugara (Tharaka) and Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Samuel Njoroge.
"In my view, Parliamentarians are uniquely placed to inspire, empower, encourage and lead the journey towards eradication of these heinous crimes and offences. This workshop will provide participants with the necessary knowledge and resources to increase awareness and advocate for more robust legislative collaboration in addressing these concerns," said the Mr. Njoroge
Rarieda MP, Hon. Otiende Amollo, emphasized Kenya's commitment to combating modern slavery through existing legislation, stating, "We have entrenched Anti-Slavery Laws in the Constitution of Kenya through Article 25. What Kenya needs to do is implement effectively especially through our devolved units. We need county governments to step in and explore legislation on trafficking across borders."
At the tail end of the workshop, Parliamentarians called upon the Leaders of the Commonwealth to take a public stand in rejecting violence against women and girls in all its forms and advocating for change within their countries.