, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – The Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet may have dismissed it right off the bat but the Human Rights Watch report on sexual offences committed over the election period makes revelations that any reasonable individual would find disturbing.
As women around the world band together around the #MeToo rallying call that stands for an end to the silence around violations of the sexual nature, the HRW report paints a grim picture of what it means to be a woman of little means in a Kenya in the throes of a bitterly contested election.
A picture of having no one to run to because those sworn to protect you hide behind the protection their status afford them, to hold you down and desecrate.
“I was in my house with my five children on the night of August 11. Two men dressed in green and black uniforms, boots, and helmets broke into my house. One had a gun, the other a baton and a whip. One asked me to say I do not support Raila, I support Uhuru Kenyatta, I refused,” she said.
A defiance for which she would pay a heavy price as she was then raped in front of her children to “teach her a lesson,” they rationalised.
Sex crimes perpetuated in times of conflict especially by men in uniform, are viewed as a weapon of repression and could explain why the isolated male too, found himself surrounded.
“Two policemen unzipped my trousers and made me lie down on the couch. They sodomised me, they did whatever they wanted to do,” he narrates in a video produced by HRW, his face blurred out.
Their identities protected, the survivors tell of unspeakable horrors. A 27-year-old woman’s joy at having given birth, on the election day itself no less, quickly soured three days later when her insides where once again torn apart – from the outside-in this time. There were three of them.
“I feel as if I have reached the end,” the new mother who should ideally be brimming with life told her interviewers, “I think of killing myself.”
The depravity of the acts speak to an inhumanity; tales of anal penetration hardly prove the exception and neither were gang rapes nor defilement by object.
One woman said her rapists inserted a medicine bottle into her anus as she was slapped, beaten with rubber whips, and urinated on.
Another one of the survivors was abducted as she walked home from work; she on her menstrual period but that did not deter her rapists who wrapped their members in plastic when they violated her.
Grace Kungu (not her real name) said she was raped on August 12 on her way home from work:
“They took me to an unfinished building and all four raped me in front (vaginally) and behind (anally). Since that day, when I am pressed, urine just comes out. Even stool, if I hold for long, I find that I have stained my underwear. I wear a sanitary pad sometimes or tissue or a handkerchief to prevent leakage. I have a lot of pain in my lower abdomen. I take pain killers all the time.”
A total of 71 accounts were recorded by HRW’s researchers who focused their energies on Nairobi, Bungoma and Kisumu; of these, a minority summoned the courage to make a report to the authorities.
One of those who did, narrated how she was met with crass insensitivity: “they told me I must have enjoyed it.”
And those who choose to remain silent for fear of retaliation, doubtlessly are burdened with concerns for their health given the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
When he “rejected as false” the HRW report, Boinnet tasked the survivors with providing proof of their assault.
Find the full report here.