The metamorphosis of rape

October 3, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, September 3 – Show me a girl who has never been abused or touched indecently and I will cry a river of joy and relief, because I know many women and each has a secret story that soaks their entire being in shame.

I have watched and offered many a comforting embrace to those who cannot escape the wretched tormenting thoughts of being touched, disrespected, hurt, and dirtied – more often than not by someone they know and trust.

Someone who they should look up to, even if by mere fact that they have lived in the world longer and should have some kind of responsibility to those younger than them.

“I was only about six-years-old. I remember his hairy chest. Our houseboy was so nice to me and we would lock the door in the afternoon,” says Rachel (we have altered her name to conceal identity).

“People in the house would always be asleep at lunch-time and I would be lying on him. I don’t know how and what we spoke of or why his shirt was always off. I can still smell him.”

Rachel isn’t the only person who has somehow managed to ‘block’ what happened to her out of her mind.

There are many women who have a father, brother, cousin, close family member or neighbour, who has often ‘touched’ them, ‘loved’ them and threatened them into keeping it a secret.

Rape is defined as an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with or sexual penetration of another person without that person’s consent, according to Wikipedia. Rape is generally considered a serious sex crime, as well as a civil assault.

The rape of women by men is by far the most frequent form of the assault. Studies have found that most rapes are committed by persons known to the victim, and that only 2% are committed by strangers.

But this trend is taking on a startling new direction. According to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital, children are slowly becoming the main target for this sexual crime in Kenya.

Patient Services Manager Rahab Ngugi says that of the hundreds of people who have sought treatment for rape since the start of 2008, close to 50 percent of them are below the age of 18.

“The youngest person brought here was an 18-month-old baby girl,” Ngugi states.

She adds that between January and August of the same year, more than 100 boys below the age of 13 have been taken to hospital after being sodomised, constituting 17 percent of the survivors of rape who seek treatment at the hospital.

In a recent incident, a five-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital bleeding profusely with his rectum hanging.

“The boy came in with rectal prolapse. He was brought in by the mother and was admitted. He went for reconstructive surgery because the rectum had come out. The boy was in so much pain. Actually, it was bad,” narrates Phyllis Wangechi, who works at the hospital’s Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC).

His mother was not at home when the incident occurred.

“I usually leave the house at 6am for work and leave the boy with my neighbour. At about 10am she called me and told me the boy is unwell. When I got home, they had already taken him to the clinic,” she says.

So just why is this happening? Nobody knows for certain. Some psychologists would call it a need for power play. Research is still being carried out and in part two of this feature, I will explore that topic in detail.

Sexual penetration is the penetration of a bodily orifice, such as the vagina, anus or mouth, with a body part or another object, as part of a sexual activity.

When sexual penetration takes place without the consent of one of the parties, it constitutes the crime of rape or sexual assault. The terms are most frequently used in relation to forced penetration of the vagina or anus by the penis.

I was almost car-jacked once. In my shock I cannot even remember the colour of the vehicle that the thugs blocked my car with. I wanted to go home, and get into bed. I wanted to forget the incident and stop being so scared. I shudder to think how a rape victim might feel.


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