Kenyan Police Assaulted, Raped Women and Children During August Polls

By David Indeje / Published December 14, 2017 | 2:34 pm



Kenyan Police Assaulted, Raped Women and Children During August Polls

In 2017, as Kenyans went to the polls on August 8, the people in opposition strongholds in Nairobi, Nyanza, western Kenya, and the Coast were hit by a wave of attacks marred by violence and serious human rights abuses.


“They were three men dressed in spotted green uniforms. Two had guns and one a baton. The one with the baton started touching my breasts. He also touched my private parts. I tried to run away, but I fell at the door. He grabbed me and dragged me back into the house. I was terrified, I thought he would kill me. I was fighting him, but he kicked me, slapped me hard on the face, and raped me as the others were watching. My 18-year-old daughter saw what happened —Mary Awiti, Kisumu, October 2, 2017.


“Widespread sexual violence marred Kenya’s 2017 elections,” Human Rights Watch said in a 31-page report, “‘They Were Men in Uniform’: Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Kenya’s 2017 Elections,” released Thursday in Nairobi.

The report documents the devastating physical, mental, social, and economic impact of gender-based violence and serious human rights abuses surrounding the recent elections.

“Kenyan women who have been raped – they are lonely and abandoned and ashamed,” said HRW researcher Agnes Odhiambo. “It’s the Kenyan government who should feel shame for failing to protect them and help them get medical treatment.”

“The impact of sexual violence on survivors is devastating,” said Agnes “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.”


A 27-year-old woman interviewed had given birth on August 7, and was raped by three policemen on August 11. “I feel useless,” she said, describing her life afterward. “I don’t speak to people. I feel so sad. I feel as if I have reached the end. I think of killing myself.”


“Now I fear police so much. When I see a policeman, I run away. They are dangerous. They are cruel. They rape women and small girls, they beat children, old people, sick people, pregnant women, all for nothing. Just because we voted,”  said Rachel Owiti from Nairobi, September 29, 2017.


Read: 

At least 60 cases of SGBV committed during the August polls – report 

Use of live bullets, deaths in Kenya’s post-election protests are rumours – Interior CS

About half of the women interviewed had not received any medical treatment and psychosocial support, and few got timely post-rape care.51 The main reasons for this were stigma, insecurity, debilitating injuries and trauma, lack of information about the importance of getting treatment quickly after rape.

According to HRW, past government plans to assist victims of the 2007-2008 violence have excluded rape survivors, and they have not received medical or other assistance.

Barriers to reporting, problems with the collection of forensic evidence, and the unwillingness of authorities to initiate genuine, credible, and fair investigations and prosecutions to punish attackers were key challenges in Kenya after the 2007-2008 election-related rapes, and remain a problem.

“Sexual violence survivors should not be left suffering and ashamed of being victims while the Kenyan government shows no shame at failing to meet their needs or to prosecute their attackers,” Odhiambo said. “Instead of downplaying the election-related sexual abuse, the Kenyan government should ensure that all survivors get appropriate medical care and justice.”

This report is based primarily on interviews conducted by HRW between September 25 and November 24, 2017 with 65 women, three girls, and three men who experienced sexual violence during the post-election period, and 12 witnesses to the election violence in some of Nairobi’s informal settlements, Kisumu, and Bungoma.




About David Indeje

David Indeje is a writer and editor, with interests on how technology is changing journalism, government, Health, and Gender Development stories are his passion. Follow on Twitter @David_IndejeDavid can be reached on: (020) 528 0222 / Email: info@sokodirectory.com

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