The police once again have been accused of widespread sexual violence witnessed in the Kenya’s 2017 elections which has been ignored by the government. This is according to the report released by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday.
The 31-page report indicated that the perpetrators were in uniform who committed sexual violence against women and girls in Kenya’s 2017 Elections. The report documents the disturbing physical, mental, social, and economic impact of serious human rights abuses surrounding the recent elections. Surprisingly, HRW found out that the Kenyan government failed to prevent election-related sexual violence, properly and seriously investigate cases, hold attackers accountable, and ensure that survivors have access to comprehensive, quality, and timely post-rape care. According to survivors, many of the attackers were security forces.
Moreover HRW calls on the government to urgently take precautions to protect women and girls, as well as men and boys, from sexual violence as it is their most fundamental right.
Ms Agnes Odhiambo, a senior women’s rights researcher at HRW said that the impact of sexual violence on survivors is devastating. “Almost all women and girls we spoke to suffered physical harm and profound mental trauma and feared that their attackers may never be held accountable”, she said.
The report indicated that HRW interviewed 68 females, three male survivors of sexual violence, and 12 witnesses in Mathare, Dandora and Kibera in Nairobi, and in Kisumu and Bungoma in western Kenya. The lobby group also interviewed 12 Kenyan and international civil society activists and community volunteers providing services to women. It also identified significant barriers that prevent many survivors from getting even basic medical and mental health support services and from seeking justice in courts of law.
Those interviewed revealed what they went through in the hands of their preys. For instance brutal gang rapes involving two or more attackers. Others said that they were raped vaginally and anally, that they were penetrated with objects, or that dirt was inserted into their private parts. Some were raped in the presence of family members, including children. Most women said they were raped by policemen or men in uniform, many of whom carried guns, batons, teargas canisters, whips, and wore helmets and other anti-riot gear.
The HRW report indicated that the Kenyan government has long ignored election-related sexual crimes and victims’ suffering, similarly thousands of women and girls are estimated to have been raped during the 2007-2008 political violence, including by state security agents. They continue to suffer serious physical and psychological trauma, and socioeconomic hardship almost a decade later, and just a handful of cases have been properly investigated or attackers faced the consequences of their crimes.