By Winnie Kabintie
I watched in horror as the mother to the recent victim of rape that hit headlines this month narrated her daughter’s harrowing ordeal in the hands of two bestial rapists, who not only took turns to rape her but also brutally assaulted her by hacking her private parts with a machete and ultimately strapped her across a railway line with the intent to have a train run over her and crush the little life that she still had left.
Luckily, 23-year-old Aisha Syongula, a mother of two from Mombasa County survived the affliction but unfortunately lost her two limbs after they were pulverized by a train that emerged shortly after the gang had left. She’s now confined in Agakhan hospital with a bill of Sh 1.5 million, which her mother is pleading to well-wishers to help foot.
Aisha has linked the incident to child custody row with the father of her four-year-old son and has asked the police to arrest her assailants, who are allegedly known to her before they kill her and her family.
“I want the police to arrest my tormentors. They want to kill me and cause untold suffering to my mother and children,” Aisha is quoted by the Standard Newspaper.
Aisha’s story is not isolated; cases of rape have been on the rise in the country lately with children making up the highest number of victims.
According to police statistics, rape of children (defilements) accounts for 78% of all rape cases reported. A report released by Medecins San Frontieres (MSF) in April last year revealed that 2,421 victims were sexually abused in Nairobi County alone in 2015.
According to the MSF report, 92.3 percent of those affected by sexual abuse representing a figure of 2,243 were female while 7.7 per cent representing 186 were male victims and 56 percent of all cases were minors.
The report also revealed rape hotspots in the city where a person is more likely to get raped which included; Kasarani, Githurai, Roysambu, Kahawa West, Marurui, Santon, Mwiki, United States International University and Kenyatta University.
Kenya’s continuing failure to adequately investigate and prosecute all sexual violence crimes is one of the factors that can be attributed to the rampant cases of rape in the country.
What is more appalling is that perpetrators are never brought to book and are left to walk scot free to the agony of victims who are left to live in fear and those who are not lucky enough are killed in the process of seeking justice.
Woman, Three Daughters Raped and Murdered
In April 2014, a woman and her three daughters were raped before being murdered in a bizarre incident in Wekelekha village, Bungoma County.
Residents pointed accusing fingers at a suspect who was released from the Bungoma GK Prison the previous week on grounds that the man had attempted to rape the deceased woman but she had reported the incident to the police prompting his arrest. Following his release, the suspect allegedly issued death threats against the woman and her daughters.
Rapists sentenced to cut grass!!
Another incident that shows just how the system has failed victims of rape is the case of “Liz”, the standard seven pupil who was beaten and gang-raped on her way home from her grandfather’s funeral at Tingolo village in Busia County, dumped in a pit latrine and left for dead in 2013.
She survived but was confined to a wheelchair following a broken spine and had the worst case of fistula as a result of the rape.
Liz recognized her rapists and identified them to the police and three men were arrested but only held on a charge of assault. The suspects were made to cut grass in the police compound as punishment before being released!
It was only after a massive public outcry and a campaign headed by the African Women’s Community Network (Femnet), the Coalition on Woman Against Violence (Covaw) and Youth Deliver, to bring Liz’s attackers to justice, which received international recognition that the country’s Director Of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko took interest in the case and demanded a proper investigation of the crime.
“As the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, we feel that the sentence imposed is inordinately lenient and fails to adequately reflect the nature and gravity of the horrific circumstances under which the offenses were committed,” the DPP said in a statement.
According to the current law, a person convicted of committing rape faces a sentence of ten years to life in prison. A person convicted of “defiling” a child aged 11 or younger can receive a life sentence, while someone who defiles a child aged 12 to 15 can receive at least 20 years in prison.
The Elusive P3 Form
The Kenyan police has also been very incompetent in handling reports on rape cases hence not enough arrests if any are ever made. In most cases, police officers treat such complaints with a dismissive or casual attitude and often embarrass the victim instead of helping them.
Much worse accessing the Police Medical Examination Form 3, (P3) which provides a victim with tangible evidence that can prove their allegations in a court of law is quite a nightmare as police often ask for bribes before they can fill the form. Some doctors are also too reluctant to fill, to avoid being witnesses in court proceedings, which tend to be lengthy.