According to the FBI; the penetration, no matter how slight, of the genitalia with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim is rape. If the word “rape” mysteriously disappeared from the English language, we would have absolutely no problem expressing the concepts it besets as Africans. We could say “sexually violate, forced to have sex, sexually assault, forcibly penetrate…” and other terms that could mean, “stripping off the dignity, paining someone or dishonor someone.”
Rape in Kenya; law aside, societal perceptions discussed, is the horrendous act to a woman to the point that she could barely walk, talk or have the zeal to live. Unless someone was hurt and blood is involved- they let you know and beget with actions, that you do not know what ‘true’ rape is. This, has been illustrated in so many instances.
In 2013, 3 men accused of brutally gang raping Liz were ordered to cut grass as punishment. 16 year old Liz was walking back home after visiting her grandfather’s home. She was beaten, gang raped, had her back broken, and was thrown into a pit latrine and left to die. The officers on duty, recorded it as an assault, and released the suspects after making them cut grass in the compound as punishment. It took about a million people across the globe to sign a petition seeking the arrest of suspects who gang-raped her. After the re-trial, they were given 15 years in prison. In 2029, Liz might just bump into her rapists. I hope and pray such a day doesn’t come by. A quick follow up, indicated that Liz and her family left the village due to threats from the village, the rapist’s relatives and friends.
In 2015, a 26 year old woman was raped in Kilimani Police station by a police officer. In her lingering quote, “anyone but the police,” she explained her ordeal in an article published by The standard media. After the rape, she spent the night in a cell, passed out. The OCS of Kilimani Police station, called her delusional and epileptic after she reported that she was raped until she passed out the following morning. The mother of a 4 year old by then, was also thrown out of the police station half naked.On top of that, they refused to give her, her belongings. She had no money, no clothes and no means of getting medical help. An assembling crowd made her get the attention she needed, that enabled her to seek medical help, record a statement, get the attention of the press and actually prove that she was indeed raped (she had severe injuries) but, at the time the article was being written, she was contemplating of withdrawing the case due to the number of threats she had received.
It is a big shame to be raped in Samburu and if your child is a result of rape, it is given Tobacco hence it dies. That is, something you pick up through the painful documentary on the rape of the Samburu women by the British soldiers. From as old as 1988, 500 – 600 Samburu women living in the villages of Sechen ( a village entirely made of ex-communicated women), with mixed race babies have for years, been trying to prove that the British soldiers raped them, with no avail. The Royal Military Police did an internal investigation and cleared their soldiers of wrongdoing. These women, do not understand why God is punishing them, one of them with a beautiful baby girl that clearly feels that pain says. She lost her family and community. Yet, for over 50 years the British have maintained their TRAINING camp in Samburu. The pain in those women’s eyes and the voice, is enough to make you wonder; what the hell is being done about this? The video can be seen here. Beatrice Chili has been a great help in helping the Samburu women, see beyond being misfits.
In 2007, more than 900 women were raped by their neighbors, strangers and family during the Kenyan Post Election Violence. They are yet to receive any justice. The various articles you grab your hand on, will break your heart. Heartbreakingly, the boy child, is raped day in, day out and I am yet to see reports that shed light on it. Truth is, the Kenyan culture has associated rape in men with weakness, in women- great shame. If a non virgin is raped, no one takes it seriously. After all, they say, she’s not a virgin. She has lost nothing.
A young man was raped in Western Kenya and instead of being given medical help, he was scolded, mocked and hidden by his family. The young boy is at risk of rape as much as a woman. In the Kenyan slums such as Dandora, in 013; gang rape of young boys had become the order of the day. None of these cases were reported until an affirmative action was taken in sensitization and awareness of the boy child rape.
The Kenyan slums have so many rape cases, we cannot begin to list it all. Children from as young as a few weeks old are raped and killed. I remember writing about the 8 year old from Kibera that has gone mute, after her case dragged on for 18 months. She is yet to get an justice- after all, her grandmother missed the court case due to heavy traffic (she was testifying for the 3rd time). A missionary in 2015 was given 40 years for molesting children in a children’s home. 40 years? Well… That’s the magnitude of his act to our law. 40 years. BUT Heck, no one saw it that way. It was a just sentence and so was Liz’s 15 years to Liz’s mother because rape convictions are a rare thing.
In Kakamega, a blind girl in Western Kenya; was raped by her teacher and is 7 months pregnant as aired by one of Kenya’s mainstream media. The teacher has disappeared (of course a few people know where he is), so justice is not done yet. In Migori, I gathered from the residents that an MCA raped a child because the mother was not around to satisfy his sexual needs. He was having an affair with the young girl’s mother and when the mother was a no show, he raped her daughter. In Nyanza province, in 2015, someone was serial raping old women. It was featured in a mainstream media. No hashtags. Nothing. Just a feature, some sad faces and that was it. That was hushed upon by us, not the media but us; they did their part. DID WE?
Most Kenyan women, are sexually harassed; daily. From the verbal insults by the touts in the buses we take to the unwarranted and forceful touches such as the case of the circulating touching and relatable post of Lynn Angela and heck to the many incidences such as occasions where women have been sexually harassed in a Matatu; literally. The woman that was sexually assaulted in the bus and no one wanted to call it rape. We just wondered what happened to her, no one called HER a rape victim. She was called a drunk girl and immoral men. No one called them rapists.
What were you doing with those men, is the Kenyan national anthem to rape victim? Why were you dressed like that? Why did you visit him alone? Those are the questions we ask the rape victims. We do not ask, are you okay? What can I do to help? We say sorry and whisper. We repeat the whole ordeal and subconsciously victimise the victims. The stares they get. The silence when they enter a room is enough to scar them further.
Any time a man or a crowd paces towards me in a lonely street or at night, I wonder, is this it? When I go to the bus station to get a bus, I pray and hope I will not be stripped, assaulted or raped as people watch. What happens if someone I know rapes me? Will I get justice or I will be forced to repeat the ordeal over and over until I go mute? What happens when I have a daughter or a son? Will they be raped? Will they rape? Will they be safe? Will my flesh and blood hurt or be hurt?
Until the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, I will not walk around knowing that I am safe. Until the sun rises in the west and sets in the East; I am a woman who fears that justice for rape, is just another foreign concept. When the sun will rise in the West and set in the East, rape in my society will be, more than just sexual penetration and I will be safe. Sigh…