Sexual Violence in Kenya; The Conversation must not stop.
By Evaline Waweru
Mercy* not her real name, has been living with her son since the passing on of her husband. She recently discovered she was pregnant much to her shock because she has not engaged in any sexual act since her husband’s demise. Almost feeling depressed, she sought help from a local hospital, which brought in her son for further questioning to see whether someone could be trespassing their home at night and sexually assaulting his mother. After much prodding, her son admitted to having drugged his mother afew nights and raping her and also admitted to the pregnancy being his.
Sexual violence is one of the most critical public health and human rights issue in Kenya today. With both long and short-term effects on the victim’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health of survivors, sexual violence strips off individuals the right to dignity, whether it happens in the context of an intimate relationship, during a conflict, or within the family or community structure.
During the 2017 electoral cycle, KNCHR published a special report on sexual violence dubbed Silhouettes of Brutality which documented varied forms on sexual violence meted on women, children and men. Among the varied human rights violations recorded by the Commission during the 2017 elections, sexual violence rated the highest at 25.17% and in varied forms such as sexual assault, defilement, indecent acts and gang rape.
The KNCHR report is just but one of many, yet unique in its own way as it indicates that sexual violence is now becoming a growing trend in volatile and conflict situations. Thus, the courts today are overflowing with increased cases of sexual violence which calls for a review and or formulation of policies that safeguard survivors of sexual violence.
In a bid to enhance efforts at redressing sexual violence cases beyond election periods, KNCHR continues to work with partners among them being Ripples International Organization whose key strength overtime has been to address Gender Based Violence. In May 2019, the Non-Governmental organization brought together Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Kenya, Crown Trust, Legal Aid and Kenya Law Reform (KLR) to discuss emerging forms of sexual violence and share recommendations of addressing the same.
Forced abortions, Gang rape, Rape used as a form of conflict, Cyberbullying, Revenge Pornography, Spousal killings, Acquaintance rape, Date rape, Forced prostitutions, Eugenics, Stelthing, and Forced sterilization of persons with disabilities emerged as the new face of gender based violence in Kenya today. Only perhaps heard of during the Rwanda Genocide, Kenya is also reporting cases of torture through rape, where tormentors insert objects into private parts of victims, especially in intra community clashes which occur from time to time, this despite the existence of The Sexual Offences Act, which outlines punishment for perpetrators.
KNCHR’s Reforms, Advocacy and Outreach Director Mrs. Anne-Marie Okutoyi stated that there is need for enhanced public awareness to enable citizens not only to report cases but also strengthen the moral fiber of society to which citizens become responsible over each other.