Thursday, May 30, 2013
A Kenyan High Court has ordered police to reinvestigate complaints of
rape by 11 girls in a landmark case brought by a children’s charity on
behalf of more than 240 victims of child rape, some of them as young as
three years old.
Mercy Chidi, who runs the Ripples International children’s charity in
Meru, Kenya, filed a petition on behalf of the girls, who came to the
charity for help after being raped by fathers, grandfathers, uncles,
police officers and neighbours.
The police rarely investigated their complaints, even locking one
girl in a cell after she reported one of their colleagues had raped her,
Police demanded bribes to investigate rape, refused to investigate
unless the victims produced witnesses, and said victims had consented to
intercourse, the victims said.
The court order released late on Tuesday in Meru, 240 km (150 miles)
northeast of Nairobi, said police contributed to a culture of tolerance
for sexual violence against girls.
“Perpetrators know they can commit crimes against innocent children
without fear of being apprehended and prosecuted,” the court said.
“The respondents showed disbelief, blamed the victims, humiliated them, yelled at and ignored them.”
Police who failed to enforce the law now risked arrest, fines and
imprisonment, said a lawyer for the girls, Fiona Sampson of The Equality
Effect, an international legal rights network.
“It is a huge victory for the individual girls and for girls across Kenya and, I would say, Africa,” she said.
The Equality Effect is supporting similar claims in Ghana and Malawi,
and has been approached by groups in Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and the
Democratic Republic of Congo asking for legal assistance to initiate
One in five women and girls are victims of sexual violence in Kenya,
according to a 2008/09 government survey. Rape is rarely reported due to
stigma and lack of faith in the justice system, although there are
strong laws against sexual assault.