Yesterday, a report titled, I Just Sit and Wait to Die: Reparations for survivors of Kenya’s 2007-2008 Post-Election Sexual Violence, was released by the Human Rights Watch. The report is centered on interviews conducted amongst rape victims, who suffered grave sexual abuse during the Kenyan post-electoral violence from 2007 to 2008. It cited that between December 2007 and February 2008, a disputed presidential election led to the police’s use of excessive force against protesters as well as ethnic-based killings and reprisals by supporters aligned to both the ruling and opposition parties.
The report says that at least 1,133 people died and more than 600,000 people were displaced from their homes. Also, sexual violence against women and girls and to a lesser extent, men and boys, were perpetrated. The interviews were conducted between November 2014 and October 2015 in different parts of Nairobi, Rift Valley, Western, Nyanza, and the Coast regions with 163 female and 9 male survivors and witnesses.
More than seven years after, victims are still stigmatized
Of all the women interviewed in the report, several expressed their anguish over being turned away by family members and friends because of their experience at the hands of their rapists. Some of them who got pregnant as a result of being raped have received no assistance with bringing up their offspring. The children born under this kind of circumstance often face open rejection as well as they are not welcome by extended family. So, the women are not the only ones who suffer from stigma attached to rape, the children do as well.
Victims are yet to recover from their ordeal both physically and psychologically
Many of the victims still suffer from poverty as they cannot fend for themselves, probably because their education was cut off due to their experience and the challenges with their health as a result of what happened to them. These victims, who are most times in need of medical attention as well as psychological counselling, do not have access to any. According to the HRW report, some women who sought medical treatment for sexual violence, were ridiculed by healthcare workers or turned away without treatment by doctors who appeared to refuse treatment on the basis of ethnicity. Others were told that health careworkers were too busy treating other casualties to attend to rape victims.
Victims may never find closure due to lack of evidence
The report says that Kenya lacks the adequate environment for providing a reparative cause for the victims. According to the report, Kenya lacks a clear legal framework to punish conflict-related sexual violence. Victims still live in fear as a result of reprisal attacks from their perpetrators, and indicates that they are still not safe, several years after they have suffered these violations. The report cites a lack of confidence in the police, negative and negligent police attitudes towards victims of sexual violence and ineffective protection of witnesses from being attacked again as some of the prevalent reasons why victims may never find closure as regards their terrible experiences.
The Kenyan government has shown apathy towards victims
Although the Kenyan government has attempted to implement several policies to assist victims, the report suggests that there have only been very few sexually-related convictions in Kenya, due to this, the victims will likely not see their perpetrators brought to justice. According to the report, the Multi-Agency Task Force was established by the director of public prosecutions in February 2012. They undertook a comprehensive review of the status of investigation and prosecution of cases. However, there have been only 23 such convictions. The report also says that the small number of convictions for sexual violence offenses mirrors the broader context in which the Kenyan authorities have shown apathy and reluctance to initiate genuine, credible and effective measures to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of the violence, especially those who organized and financed it and members of state security forces who committed serious abuses.