Ms Helder Lameck, an activist working with the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) distributes face masks to girls inside a maize plantation in Takaye area of Malindi Sub County. She said that about 60 percent of all households in the area have experienced gender-based violence, with girls bearing the brunt of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic

Six out of every ten households in Kilifi County experience domestic violence due to the difficult economic situations brought by the coronavirus pandemic, a women’s media organisation has said.

Through a Malindi Gender-Based Violence (GBV) activist, Helder Lameck, the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) says girls aged between six and 17 years are most at risk of sexual exploitation due to the contagion ravaging the county.

She told journalists in Malindi Town Sunday that in response, the association had embarked on an aggressive campaign to create awareness on COVID-19 and address the increasing cases of gender-based violence at the grassroots level.

Over the weekend, AMWIK held a media broadcast through a Malindi-based FM station before proceeding for a roadshow campaign in Takaye, Msoloni, Kwachocha, Kijiwetanga, Mtangani and Kibokoni informal settlements.

Speaking after the roadshow, Ms Lameck said the increased cases of domestic violence saw some children going without food and adolescents missing other necessities such as sanitary towels, thereby exposing them to sex predators.

She said her office receives at least three cases of defilement involving girls aged below twelve years every week, adding that cases of teenage pregnancies were also rampant.

            “The situation is worrying as research indicates, girls aged between six and 17 years are at risk of sexual exploitation as they strive to survive the effects of the pandemic,” she said.

            Hundreds of people in Malindi lost their jobs after hotels and other businesses were closed down as the government instituted measures aimed at containing the fast-spreading virus that has infected more than 100 people in Kilifi County.

            By Sunday, Kenya had recorded a total of 16,643 cases of Covid-19 and a death toll of 278 persons.

            In Malindi, hundreds of people were left jobless after hotels closed down due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

            The AMWIK campaign included the distribution of posters, postcards, face masks and banners with messages on how to prevent contracting the dreaded virus.

            Ms Lameck said the national and county governments should step up intervention efforts including the distribution of foodstuffs to the most vulnerable in society.

            Further, she asked parents to stop using their children as hawkers under the excuse that they are supplementing family incomes, saying paedophiles had taken advantage of the bad situation to exploit girls sexually.