, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 14 – The Human Rights Watch has released a damning report that accuses the Police of committing sexual abuses in the just concluded election period.
With at least 50 percent of the interviewed sexual survivors saying they were raped by policemen or men in uniform, many of whom carried guns, batons, teargas canisters, whips, and wore helmets and anti-riot gear.
Speaking at the launch of a report titled “They were men in uniform: Sexual violence against women and girls in Kenya’s 2007 elections” Agnes Odhiambo senior researcher said the women and girls interviewed described brutal gang rapes involving two or more attackers.
“There was widespread sexual violence in Kenya’s 2017 elections with the majority being gang rape, mass rape, vaginal and anal rape, penetration with objects, dirt was inserted in their private parts and in at least one case, a girl died after being raped,” she said.
The report found out that the violence was targeted at opposition strongholds in Mathare, Kibera, Kisumu and Bungoma with most victims of sexual violence saying they did not report due to fear of retaliation.
In some cases, the women who went to report sexual violence said that police sent them away without taking statements, ridiculed or verbally abused them, or failed to follow up on complaints.
Some of the survivors who were interviewed said they suffered incapacitating physical injuries or experienced other health consequences that left some unable to work or care for their families.
“A 27-year-old woman interviewed had given birth on August 7, and was raped by three policemen on August 11,” Odhiambo said.
“Young girls said they experience nightmares, lack of sleep, listlessness, fear, and anxiety that limits their ability to study.”
Most women also said they had not received post-rape medical or psychological care, including medication to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.
“Some women who received medical treatment said the services were not comprehensive, there was no forensic documentation of sexual violence, or that they did not get appropriate referrals for medical treatment, counselling support or to the criminal justice system,” the report found.
One woman who said she was raped in the presence of police, along with five other women, described the frustration they went through when they tried to report the attack.
“They asked, ‘How do you know they were police?’ They said, ‘If you had been raped you would have gone to the hospital first. Where is the evidence? How can we believe you?’ They told us we must have enjoyed the rape,” notes the report.
However, the body is concerned that similar cases were documented during the 2007 elections but no solution had been found yet citing the frustrations of the survivors in accessing justice.
“The Kenyan government has long ignored election-related sexual crimes and victims’ suffering. Thousands of women and girls are estimated to have been raped during the 2007-2008 political violence, including by state security agents,” the report found.
“Only a few women who were interviewed reported to the Police because of the low confidence they have in the force. The government should create an enabling environment for the victims to come out and report the rape cases.”
Odhiambo challenged the government to own up instead of downplaying election-related sexual abuse and urged them to ensure that all survivors get appropriate medical care and justice.
“We want the government to come out and admit the atrocities they committed including those done by the Police,” she emphasized.