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Shame of rising cases of incest, rape in Kisumu

Thursday, April 13th, 2023 03:00 | By
rape GBV
Some of the survivors of sexual abuse in Nyakach sub-county within Kisumu. Cases of incest and defilement are rampant in the area. PD/viola kosome

Cases of sexual abuse are on the rise in Seme and Nyakach sub-counties in Kisumu county with some being victims of their very own parents and relatives.

 An investigation by People Daily across the two Sub-Counties has unearthed horrific details of several victims who have been subjected to incest and defilements.

While the victims continue to struggle with the trauma of the attacks, the quest to find justice remains a mirage as some rogue relatives opt to handle the cases out of court.

The development comes at a time when statistics at the region’s Gender Based Violence (GBV) centre based at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital has been recording several cases of sexual abuses almost on a daily basis.

Interviews with a number of victims established that they were targeted by relatives and people who are well-known to them and their relatives.

This was the case of Rose Akinyi (not her real name), a grade six pupil who is among the latest victims of sexual abuse. She was targeted by a 73 year old man man from her village in Seme sub county.

The incident went viral on social media after some neighbours came to the rescue of the 14 year old child and filmed the man after catching him red handed defiling the minor. The incident happened in February this year.

When People Daily visited the victim’s parents at their home, she was still yet to recover from the ordeal she was subjected to by the old man.

The horrific incident is still fresh in her memories and she sheds a tear as she recounts the turn of events that led to her defilement. “My mother had sent me to the shop. On my way, I noticed the man following me but I did not think he had any ill intentions because he was someone we knew from the village,” she narrated.

After a while, she says, the man grabbed her, threatened her before dragging her into a bush where he defiled her.

Some men who were passing by the road side heard her distress calls and responded. They caught him in the act. “The old man begged them to forgive him and promised to give out money but the men refused,” she said.

They rushed her to Kombewa Sub-County Hospital for treatment. The man was frog matched to Kombewa police station by the villagers who wanted to lynch him.

Extremely scared

The mother of the victim, the man’s family has made several attempts to convince them to agree to an out-of-court settlement but they have declined.

In the same village, Joyce Awuor (not her real name) is also a worried young mother. The 21-year old was forced into early motherhood after she was defiled by her step-father.

Everything, she says, changed for the worst for her when her biological father died four years ago. Her mother remarried and their step-father targeted her.

On the fateful day, she says, she was alone in the house with her stepfather when he took advantage and defiled her. “I was extremely scared and did not know whether to disclose to my mother or not. I was depressed for several weeks and finally opted to tell my mother,” she says.

Her mother, however, swept the matter under the carpet for fear of losing her new marriage. “I dropped out of school in form two at the age of 16 and I am now struggling to raise my child,” she states.

She is now among the women who are seeking mental support from Equality Now and other organisations counselling victims of GBV.

In the two week investigations, we encountered 10 victims of defilements in Seme alone who are also struggling to overcome the trauma they have been subjected to by their attackers.

For 15 year-old Janet (not her real name) she was defiled by her uncle after she came from school in February this year.

The class 8 pupil told us that she was in the company of her classmates but split up along the way as everyone headed to their home.

 The perpetrator, she says, called her pretending that he wanted to send her to her grandmother whom she was staying with since she is an orphan. He then dragged her to his house and forcefully removed her dress. “He defiled and threatened me not to tell anyone. I told my grandmother when I reached home and she rushed me to the hospital for treatment,” Janet says.

Separate villages

At Kombewa Sub County hospital, she was taken through several tests before the doctors placed her on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) drug which she took daily for one month.

After the incident, the suspect fled his home and has never been seen again, according to Janet’s grandmother.

And in Nyakach, two girls from separate villages were defiled on their way from a night vigil at a funeral that was close to their place in lower Nyakach.

Unfortunately none of them has gotten justice.

According to George Wainaina, the Nyakach sub-county children officer, GBV cases are high but only a handful of cases are reported. He claims some cases are not reported. “For the few that come, we help them get assistance and justice,” he says.

However, the officer claimed that some of their efforts are frustrated by victims opting to solve the matters out of court and failing to appear in court to testify.

In Nyakach, he says they have a challenge of safe houses arguing that if they can keep the survivors in a safe place, there will be no interference.

Wainaina also noted that they successfully convicted one retired teacher who defiled a 12 year old girl and infecting her with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). The attacker was sentenced to 10 years in jail.

He also revealed that cases of defilement, rape and incest are very rampant in Nyakach sub-county since they get reports almost on a daily basis.

Last year, he stated, they documented about 110 cases from Central Nyakach, 225 from North Nyakach, 220 from South East Nyakach, 93 from South West Nyakach and 144 from West Nyakach.

He pleaded with the county government to work in conjunction with the national government to help them build safe houses which he said we’re very vital.

According to Jenipher Kosome, Assistant County Commissioner in Nyakach sub-county, cases of incest are very common in the area. She noted that the cases are underreported and when reported, perpetrators are told to withdraw the cases to avoid shaming the family.

She urged parents to have a close relationship with their children and ensure that they are in safe hand when they leave for work.

 In an interview with Lady Justice Jackline Kamau, a presiding judge in Vihiga, noted SGBV cases delay because of shortage of judges to handle them. “Just until recently, we were about 62 judges serving a population of 52 million Kenyans and also on a daily basis, a magistrate can handle up to 30 matters which gives them hard time since it is too much work, “she said.

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