It all began when Dr. Sam Thenya, Founder and CEO of the Nairobi Women’s Hospital realized the gap when he worked at the top private hospitals in Kenya. He witnessed countless rape victims who could not get the necessary treatment due to their inability to meet the full costs. He took this challenge and wrote a proposal to the CEO of the hospital who later rejected it on grounds that it was not suitable in the long run. The CEO further challenged Dr. Thenya to implement the proposal himself if he strongly felt he needed it.
Not to take a challenge lying down, Dr. Thenya acquired the Hurlingham Hospital while it was on receivership and re-named it The Nairobi Women’s Hospital in the year 2001. Additionally, he founded the charitable arm of the hospital, Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC), which provides free comprehensive medical treatment and psychosocial support to survivors (both male and female) of Gender Based Violence. Dr. Thenya’s vision for founding the Nairobi Women’s Hospital was and still is to strategically respond to the gaps within the African Healthcare sector by providing quality healthcare that is financially and geographically accessible profitably.
With the alarming rates of sexual offenses, establishing and running a women’s hospital was not going to be enough to stem the tide against these acts. More had to be done. Dr. Thenya worked with the by then nominated Member of Parliament, Hon. Njoki Ndung’u (currently the Supreme Court Judge and Chairperson, GVRC Board of Trustee), to get the Sexual Offenses Act (2006) passed. The Act comprehensively covered provision of medical treatment and psychosocial support for the survivors, witness protection and capacity building for prosecutors and general public awareness-raising.
The Act also identified areas requiring additional research, including models of integrated medical-legal services, the design and maintenance of offender databases and potential strategies for productive engagement between formal and informal justice systems. As a member of the task force on the Sexual Offenses Act (2006), Dr. Thenya was termed as not only a technical expert but the “male face” of the Act.
The fight against Gender Based Violence continues earnestly. Through this wonderful footprint, GVRC has since been able to support over 30,000 survivors of Gender Based Violence in Kenya since March 2001. We continue to envision a society free from violence.