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Rescue centre for rape survivors planned

NAIROBI, September 1 – A local private forensic firm has announced plans to put up a rescue centre for rape survivors in the country.

Biotech Forensics in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Cchildren Services and the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) are currently finalising plans to put up the centre to accommodate young girls who are facing various challenges.

One of the firm’s directors, Lynne T. Farrah said the centre would target girls who have been defiled and fear going back to their homes.

“Most of those girls have babies. They cannot be allowed at children’s homes when they have babies. That is why we want to establish a safer environment to enable them continue with their education,” she said.

Farrah observed that the firm is concerned about the high rate of rape cases in the country, which have led to an increase in school drop out amongst girls.

She revealed that the forensic firm has handled many rape cases mainly in Naivasha, which has a high prevalence of rape and incest.

“In most of these cases, girls have been impregnated and cannot be accepted back to their homes,” she said.

Farrah stated that the firm has been using their forensic experts to unravel several rape cases in the country.

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“We have helped determine many cases because we work closely with defence lawyers to gather forensic evidence on rape cases,” she said.

Farrah teamed up with her co-director Sophie Mukwana to establish a private forensics consultancy firm in May 2007.

Farrah is a holder of a Diploma in Higher Education in Biochemistry from South Bank University, London. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Forensic Science and Criminology from the same University.

“Upon graduation, I came back to Kenya with a vision of working with the police force to improve and educate police officers on the importance of crime scene management and preserving the integrity of evidence. I did not get that opportunity because a plan to establish a forensics lab failed to take off,” she said.

Farrah’s wish was to help the police better manage crime scenes in gathering forensic evidence, but as she explains, this was not to be.

“I wanted to apply my expertise on scenes of crime security, management and investigation as well as forensic anthropology and entomology,” she said.

Her co-director, Mukwana, is a graduate of California State University, in Fresno, and the University of California, Davis.

She holds a bachelors degree in Chemistry and a masters degree in Forensic Science.

“Sophie is keen to see forensic evidence becoming part and parcel of court proceedings in the country and the region of East Africa,” Farrah said of her co-director.

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Biotech forensics has mainly concentrated on rape victims because it is not registered to handle crime scene investigations.

“We are not yet gazetted so we are not recognised by the police to do crime scene investigations. We mainly help defense lawyers because by the same token, there are many people out there who are charged with offences they have not committed."

Farrah also disclosed the firm’s plans to establish a forensics lab to compliment their services.

“This is a basic necessity for any forensic work and that is why we want to put up one. It will enable us handle forensic cases expeditiously,” she said.

The director also intimated that forensic scientists are also working towards establishing a forensic association.

“We want forensic scientists to be recognised. We want a body that will be responsible for accrediting forensic scientists, as currently there is no such professional body in the country,” she added.

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