NOMINATED Member of Parliament Njoki Ndung’u has called on sexual violence victims to activate the Sexual Offences Act by reporting such cases to the police.
She said the Act, signed into law by President Mwai Kibaki two months ago, would not be effective until the victims of sexual violence report the cases to the police.
The MP spoke during the first conference of its kind incorporating Kenya’s barmaids aimed at sensitising them on HIV/Aids. It was attended by more than 500 barmaids from across the country.
Ndung’u said barmaids were among the most vulnerable groups to sexual harassment and therefore needed the protection of the law.
Despite the amendment of the Bill before it was passed into law, she said, the Act still has provisions for sexual violence victims and assured the bar hostesses of legal protection against bar clients and employers.
She urged the public to respect the bar hostesses’ rights, adding that the profession was critical to the Kenyan services and hospitality industry, and also a major contributor to the growth of the economy.
Ndung’u was optimistic that the amended parts of the Bill would be reviewed in future as most of the sections were crucial to the protection of the vulnerable groups in the country.
“The character of a victim should not be relevant in court in cases of sexual violence, and this is one of the parts that Parliament rejected,” she said.
However, the MP warned the public against using the Act as a weapon against possible sexual offenders and instead only use it as shield, noting that the Act was gender neutral.
The union representing the interests of the bar hostesses country wide is expected to fight for the rights of its members and also air out their grievances to the public in an effort to eliminate the stigma associated with being a bar attendant. The members distanced themselves from prostitution and commercial sex workers and called upon the society to respect their rights and contribution to the improvement of the Kenyan economy.
“Some times we are forced by circumstances to resort to working in nightclubs and we only sell alcohol and not our bodies,” said Jacinta Wanjiku, one of the barmaids in Nairobi.
There are about 150,000 women bar attendants country wide who are forced to work for long hours with little or no pay at the end of each month.
Meanwhile a Kericho court was stunned yesterday when a father of a defiled minor was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment after admitting to have conspired with her daughter’s defiler to cover up the matter.