NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 27 – “When most kids wanted to grow up and become doctors or pilots, all I wanted to do is grow up and leave home,” said FACT International Director Joy Thuo as she narrated how at a tender age of 10 she was sexually abused but did not understand exactly what had happened to her.
She was first defiled by her uncle she lived with and the violation went on until she was 11.
“At only 10 years, sex became a lifestyle after being defiled and not having somebody to turn to for help. Sex was no longer a taboo and I now had to do it to receive favours from people and please those around me,” explained Thuo.
Speaking to Capital FM News, the activist said that her attack happened at a time when reporting cases was unheard of but since then incidents of child molestation have alarmingly risen, citing easy accessibility to pornographic material as one of the major causes.
“Pornography has heightened the occurrence of the cases; today, some have taken it to a new level even creating videos of people having sex with children.”
“These videos create the idea in the mind of a pervert such that when they come across a child then they want to experiment,” she added.
Also criticised was the laxity observed at police stations to handle the cases or punish the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
Thuo observed that some counties do not even have a gender desk at their police stations making it impossible for victims to access justice.
“Sometimes the police can really let you down when it comes to dealing with sexual abuse cases yet they are the first contacts when trying to access justice.”
“In Diani police station, I hope they have started a gender office because the first time I went there to see it, I was in dismay to see an office without a roof and nobody to attend to victims.”
“In other police stations when a victim goes to report the police mock them insinuating that they are the cause of their own attack.”
“We as FACT International have had a case where a medical examination report (P3) was changed and were it not for having a photocopy, then the case would have been thrown out of court,” Thuo explained.
She urged the government to create offices that specifically handle defilement cases as opposed to having them at the police stations.
“Police have murder cases, robbery cases and all sorts of other cases to handle and so not much focus goes into the defilement ones and the perpetrators are set free with minimal punishment.”
Last year a group of women demanding justice for a 16-year-old girl who was gang-raped in Western Kenya demonstrated in Nairobi, marching to Police Headquarters where they hang underwear on the fence as a show of protest.
The placard-carrying women said they were enraged because the police had initially arrested three of the attackers – all aged between 16 and 20 – and only punished them with an order to cut grass at a police station compound.
In a turn of events, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo said that it was unlikely that, the girl commonly referred to as “Liz” had been raped.
“Unfortunately, our investigations have revealed information which the public do not have and which members of the public need to appreciate before they offer a blanket condemnation on the incident,” he said in a statement at the time.
Kimaiyo said the findings of their investigations did not corroborate the girl’s account pointing out that the time that elapsed between Liz calling out for help and her being found did not allow for a gang rape.
“The time span between the screams for help and when the villagers actually came out to her rescue is given as too short for six assailants to have gang raped her,” Kimaiyo’s statement read.