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Nyeri police contest harassment claims by woman

A 41-year-old woman has alleged that two police officers sexually harassed her during arrest.

She told reporters that she was apprehended alongside a male friend on February 23 on allegations of peddling bhang.

After being searched by officers attached to Othaya Police Station they were found with 24 rolls of the mentioned drug.

But she said the man was later released on unclear grounds.

The mother of one said the officers manhandled her and locked her up in a cell designated for men.

“I found 15 men in the cell. They started harassing me and I feared that they would rape me. I screamed and one officer responded. I was later locked up in a separate cell,” she recalled.

The lady, a fruit vendor in Othaya, further said she suspected that her dress code (jeans, shirt and Sahara boots, which are presumed to be meant for men) caused the confusion about her gender.

“I have freedom of wearing any type of clothes. I am currently suffering from humiliation and self-pity. The issue has affected my family.

“The officers touched me inappropriately in their efforts to confirm my gender and conducting a search.

“They played with my breasts while ordering me to lift my hands and I felt bad for confusing my gender. I am a woman and I have a kid. I told them the breasts are permanent and not fixed,” she said.

She said she pleaded with the officers to take her to Othaya District Hospital to confirm her gender but was dismissed.

Later, after her demands to be handled by a female officer bore fruits, she said the officer identified as Agnes took her to a private room where she was asked to strip naked for her to verify her gender.

“I demanded to be handled by a female officer but at the moment there was none. I was very angry and I stripped to the female cop by the name Agnes to defeat the doubts,” she said.

OUT ON BAIL

She said she spent the entire weekend in the police cell.

The lady further disclosed that that was not the first time to be locked up and questioned about her gender.

She was arraigned in court on February 27 where she denied the drug peddling charges and was released on a Sh20,000 bond.

However, Othaya OCPD Joseph Mwika dismissed her claims saying she is a well-known peddler.

“The suspect’s physical appearance is like [that of a] man’s. Police were confused because she was even dressed in male clothes. She was placed in an empty cell alone following the confusion. No male officer harassed her sexually,” Mr Mwika said.

The OCPD said an enquiry addressing her claims will be launched.

Mr Mwika added that the file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (Keriako Tobiko) for the way forward, including seeking orders to have a doctor confirm the suspect’s gender.

“Police could not ascertain if the suspect is male or female. She had been locked up in a female cell and one suspect raised alarm saying she had a male sexual organ. That is when she was taken to a private cell,” Mr Mwika added.

The police boss also said that the lady wanted to be accompanied to a hospital by a lawyer and her mother, who were not available at that moment.

Moreover, he revealed that in 2010 she was sentenced to four years in Lang’ata Women’s Prison for being in possession of 44 rolls of bhang; she was released in 2012.

“She has a previous criminal record. Despite the claims, the drug peddling case and the enquiry will proceed,” he said.

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