Adolescent girls

Kenya: Ensure justice for 16-year-old Liz & all victims of sexual violence

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2014 Jan 23
Update: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

10 OCTOBER 2014 UPDATE: Though Liz’s case has been adjourned until November 2014, progress continues in the case as well as to address sexual violence in Busia County/Western Kenya. In late September the DPP announced that a second perpetrator had been apprehended and placed in juvenile prison. Additionally, in late August specially trained investigators were sent to Busia to begin looking into the 70 additional rape cases compiled by our partners, with several arrests soon following. At the same time, the National Gender and Equity Commission began its own investigation in Busia to better understand the gaps and persistent problems. The Commission held closed hearings with 100s of survivors of sexual violence - many referred by REEP – and also met with magistrates, chiefs, religious officers, government officials and the children’s office to discuss the issue. Equality Now and our partners are greatly encouraged by these positive developments. Please continue to support the #JusticeforLiz campaign!


31 JULY 2014 UPDATE: The trial to obtain justice for Liz began on 24 June with court proceedings subsequently adjourned until 11-12 September. With the beginning of the trial, we are encouraged by the increased responsiveness of government officials to address sexual violence in Busia/Western Kenya arising from the campaign. In June, Equality Now wrote to the Kenyan Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) – detailing 70 additional rape cases compiled by our partners, which had not been investigated and/or the identified suspects had not been arrested – to spur them to take action. Less than a month later, the DPP responded to say that he had contacted the Director of Criminal Investigations calling for “speedy and thorough investigations” into the cases; asked for the files to be submitted to his office for appropriate action following the investigations; and, that he had appointed a team from the DPP’s Sexual and Gender Based Violence unit to provide guidance during the investigations.

We are extremely hopeful that this response from senior leadership signals that sexual violence will be taken seriously and handled appropriately in Kenya. Equality Now, COVAW, Avaaz, REEP and the SOAWR coalition thank you for partnering with us on this campaign, and we will continue to update you as the situation progresses.


20 JUNE 2014 UPDATE: Renewed call to Action! The trial for Liz’s case is scheduled to begin on Tuesday 24 June and, though it’s been nearly a year, still only one of the five gang rape suspects has been arrested, despite community reports that the whereabouts of the remaining five are known.

Please help us continue to demand justice for victims of sexual violence in Kenya and raise awareness on the systemic failures to address the problem in Busia County - the site of Liz’s attack and a region with a high prevalence of sexual violence against women and girls.

On Monday 23 June, Equality Now, COVAW, Avaaz, REEP and the SOAWR coalition are holding a rally and community dialogue in Busia, to amplify our call for justice and for authorities to take sexual violence more seriously in Kenya, especially in Busia.

The renewed call and details about the rally are available here – please join us in spreading the word that we’ve had ENOUGH when it comes to sexual violence!


17 APRIL 2014 UPDATE: Progress! We’re pleased to report that following the 8 April hearing, the Director of Public Prosecutions has finally amended and upgraded the charges against all six suspects to gang rape, and issued arrest warrants for the remaining five suspects. The case is set to go to trial on 24 June.

Thank you for keeping up the pressure on Kenyan officials to get justice for Liz and we'll continue to update you as the case progresses. We hope that you will continue to join with Equality Now and our partners in calling on Kenyan officials to ensure that all sexual violence complaints are handled swiftly and appropriately, and that officials are properly equipped to deal with survivors and victims of sexual violence.


28 March 2014 Update: Thank you to the thousands of supporters who have taken action to demand Justice for Liz. Authorities took notice, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions initially issued public assurances that the case would proceed to court without further delay. However, following a hearing on 24 March 2014, it's clear that the authorities still aren't taking Liz’s case seriously. To date, only one of the  six suspects have been arrested, despite reports that their whereabouts are known, and the charge sheet still has not been amended to reflect rape or other crimes of sexual violence under the Sexual Offenses Act. Further, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority has not yet released their investigative report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by police officers handling this case, and no lawful action has been taken to address the police failures in this case.

The next hearing is scheduled for 8 April 2014 and we need your help! Please maintain pressure to obtain justice for Liz. Authorities must take immediate action to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors and victims.


view as pdf

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

  • Call on the officials below to take immediate steps to arrest all the remaining suspects so the trial can proceed with them present.
  • Urge Kenya’s criminal justice sector work together more effectively to ensure that the Sexual Offences Act is effectively implemented so that all cases of sexual violence are properly investigated and prosecuted, particularly in the Butula and Nambale sub-counties of Busia County.
  • Urge the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to investigate and report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by the police officers handling this case, and to take action against the police failures in this case.
  • Urge the government of Kenya to prioritize the training of law enforcement officials to ensure that sexual violence complaints are appropriately handled and that officials are equipped to deal with survivors of sexual violence by rectifying harmful behaviors that might further distress victims or impede their access to justice.
  • Take part in the #JusticeForLiz social media campaign. Messages can also be re-tweeted from @equalitynow, @COVAW and @FemnetProg.
  • Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

Letters should be addressed to:

H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta
President of the Republic of Kenya
P.O. Box 30040
Nairobi, Kenya
@StateHouseKenya, @UKenyatta
info@president.go.ke

Hon. Prof Githu Muigai
Attorney General
Department of Justice
Harambee Avenue
P.O Box 40112-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
oagpcomms@kenya.go.ke
@AGMuigai

Hon. Joseph Ole Lenku
Cabinet Secretary
Ministry of Interior & Coordination of National Government
Harambee House, Harambee Avenue, P.0. Box 30510-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
@joelenku, @InteriorKE

Hon. Mr. Keriako Tobiko
Director of Public Prosecution
Office of the DPP
NSSF Building, 19th Fl
Bishops Road
P.O. Box 30701-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
info@odpp.go.ke

H.E. Ms. Anne Waiguru
Cabinet Secretary
Ministry of Devolution & Planning
P. O. Box 30005 - 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
info@devolutionplanning.go.ke
@AnneWaiguru

Hon Dr. Willy Mutunga
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Kenya
City Hall Way
P.O. Box 30041-00100
Nairobi, Kenya
chiefjustice@judiciary.go.ke
@WMutunga

Hon. Sospeter Odeke Ojaamong
Governor, Busia County
County Government of Busia
Fomer Busia Town Hall Building
P.O Box Private Bag Busia
50400 Busia, Kenya
info@busiacounty.go.ke

Ms. Patricia Nyaundi
Secretary to the Commission
Kenya National Commission on Human Rights
1st Floor CVS Plaza, Kasuku Rd.
P.O. Box: 74359-00200
Nairobi, Kenya
haki@knchr.org

Independent Policing
Oversight Authority
1st Ngong Avenue,
ACK Garden Annex, 2nd Fl.
P. O. Box 23035 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
info@ipoa.go.ke

With a copy to: The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association, Email: info@kewopa.org

Letters: 

Dear President/Minister/Governor,

I am deeply concerned about the mounting evidence demonstrating Kenyan authorities’ systemic failure to investigate and prosecute sexual violence cases. I am particularly disturbed by the brutal rape of Liz in Busia County that occurred on June 26, 2013, and the subsequent miscarriage of justice by authorities in Liz’s case. To date five of the six suspects identified have not been arrested despite reports that their whereabouts are known. Much more must be done to protect Kenya’s women and girls from sexual violence and to ensure timely access to justice for all survivors.

Liz’s case drew national and international attention to Busia County and the failures of the local authorities to adequately address sexual violence. The evidence in Busia in is very compelling, and highlights the prevalence of sexual violence plaguing women and girls, and the tremendous obstacles encountered at every stage of the criminal justice process. There are dozens if not hundreds of cases that underscore just how dire the situation has become.

Kenya’s 2006 Sexual Offences Act criminalizes all forms of sexual violence and the 2010 Constitution entrenches the rights and fundamental freedoms of all, while also giving significant prominence to human rights and international law (specifically see Articles 27, 28, 29, and 48). Kenya has also ratified and domesticated a number of human rights instruments that affirm the State’s responsibility to protect women and girls from sexual violence, including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Protocol), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I join Equality Now and their partners through the Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) Coalition - COVAW, FIDA-Kenya, FEMNET, Fahamu and IPAS - in calling for justice for Liz and for all survivors and victims of sexual violence. I urge Kenyan authorities to take urgent action in accordance with Kenya’s international, regional and domestic obligations to ensure that:

  • Immediate steps are taken to ensure timely justice for Liz, which includes arresting the five remaining suspects who are still at large so that the case can proceed with them present at the trial now scheduled for 24 June, 2014.
  • Kenya’s criminal justice sector work together more effectively to ensure that the Sexual Offences Act is effectively implemented and that all cases of sexual violence are properly investigated and prosecuted, particularly in Busia County.
  • That the Independent Policing Oversight Authority investigate and report on the allegations of egregious professional misconduct by police officers handling this case, and take necessary lawful action against police failures in this case.  
  • That the training of law enforcement officials is prioritized to ensure that sexual violence complaints are appropriately handled and that they are equipped to deal with survivors and victims of sexual violence by rectifying harmful behaviours that might further distress victim or impede their access to justice.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Give the gift of protection to a girl in Yemen–in 30 seconds (Too Young To Wed)

12/23/2013 -- Too Young To Wed -- "Give the gift of protection to a girl in Yemen–in 30 seconds" 2Y2W features our petition calling on the government of Yemen to enact a law establishing a minimum age of marriage.

Ending Violence against Adolescent Girls in Zambian Schools (UNGEI blog)

12/6/1213 -- UNGEI blog -- "Ending Violence against Adolescent Girls in Zambian Schools" Program Officer (Sexual Violence and Trafficking) Caroline Muthoni Muriithi talks about our project in Zambia to address sexual violence against girls:

Yemen to Finally Ban Child Marriage? (The Daily Beast)

11/20/1213 -- The Daily Beast -- "Yemen to Finally Ban Child Marriage?" Middle East/ North Africa Consultant Suad Abu-Dayyeh on recent developments in Yemen.

Afghanistan: Prosecute those responsible for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Shakila Bakhsh

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Nov 25

view as pdf

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to send all letters below online.

  • Call on the officials below to ensure that a full and fair investigation is undertaken into the death of Shakila Bakhsh and that the perpetrator/s of her rape and murder are prosecuted without delay.
  • Urge the government of Afghanistan, in accordance with Afghanistan’s own Constitution and its international legal obligations, to ensure that robust systems are put in place to prevent all violence against women and girls and to guarantee that the rule of law prevails in protection of the rights of women and girls.

Letters should go to:

Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. Umar Daudzai
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Interior Affairs
Kabul
Afghanistan
Tel: +93 202 102 945 +93 202 102 945 +93 202 201 785 +93 202 201 785
Email: af.moi.press@gmail.com, moi.spokesman.mediadirectorate@gmail.com

Minister of Justice Mr. Habibullah Ghalib
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Justice
Charayee Pashtoonistan,
Foroushgah
Kabul
Afghanistan
Tel:  +93 202 104 336
Email: spksperson@gmail.com

With copy to: President Karzai, Presidential Palace, Kabul, Afghanistan Tel: +93 (20) 210 2853, +93 (20) 210 3705, +93 (20) 210 3705 Email: president.pressoffice@gmail.com

Letters: 

Dear Minister of Interior Affairs/ Minister of Justice:

I am deeply concerned about the rape and murder of 16-year-old Shakila Bakhsh, daughter of Mohammad Bakhsh, in Zargaran, in central Bamyan on 31 January 2012, and the lack of a prosecution in her case.

According to the Bamyan Province Court of Appeal (case number 40, May 21, 2012) documents, Shakila was found dead at the home of Mr. Mohammad Hadi Wahidi Bihishti, a member of Bamyan Provincial Council. At the time of the incident Mr. Bihishti was home with his wife and nephew. Initially Mr. Bihishti’s bodyguard, Mr. Qurban, who is also Shakila’s brother-in-law, was charged with her murder despite eye witness statements which placed him at a local bazaar at the time. Mr. Qurban claimed he was informed about Shakila’s death through a phone call made to him by Mr. Bihishti who told him that Shakila had killed herself.

Court documents state that security forces and the police were not informed by Mr. Bishishti or anyone else about what had happened. Instead, the deceased’s body was taken to hospital. The documents also state that there was an attempt to remove signs of the murder at the house. When police present at the hospital happened to find out about the incident they sent a team to investigate. However, the court documents also highlight a number of failings in the police investigation including the fact that the police neglected to send fingerprints of Mr. Bihishti, his wife or nephew to forensics to be examined. Reportedly family members of Shakila and Mr. Qurban maintain that Mr. Bihishti is responsible for killing Shakila, but due to his influential position in the Bamyan Provincial Council he is not being fully investigated. On 21 May 2012, the Court of Appeal concluded that there was insufficient evidence against Mr. Qurban and ordered a new investigation.

I urge you to please ensure that the case is fully and fairly investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. I would respectfully urge the government of Afghanistan to ensure the rule of law prevails and that violence against women and girls is prevented and punished to the full extent of the law in accordance with Afghanistan’s own Constitution and international legal obligations.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Yemen: End child marriages by enacting and enforcing a minimum age of marriage law

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2013 Sep 19

10 DECEMBER 2013 UPDATE: Two weeks ago, a young man reached out to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights to stop the marriage of his 11-year-old sister, Nada (not her real name) to her 23-year-old cousin. While the Ministry has intervened in cases like this before and stopped parents from marrying off young girls, they were unable to stop Nada’s marriage as her father refused to relent and there is no law against child marriage.

What You Can Do: 

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Click on this link to sign the petition.

  • Contact the Yemeni President, Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House and ask them to:
  1. Ensure that the draft bill banning child marriage is passed by parliament as soon as possible.
  2. Ensure effective enforcement of this law once passed.
  3. Take measures to protect and promote the rights of girls who have ended or escaped child marriages, including by providing them with safe accommodation, education and counseling.
  • Help us spread the word about this campaign by sharing this Action with your friends.

Letters should be addressed to:

Mr. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
President of the Republic of Yemen
President Residence
60 Street
Sana’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 276 866
Fax: +967 1 252 803
Tel: +967 1 621 062

Mohammed Salem Basindwa
Prime Minister
Fax: +967 1 282 686

Mr. Yahia El Raei
Speaker of the House
Yemeni Parliament
26 September Street
San’a, Yemen
Fax: +967 1 271 102

With a copy to: Minister Hooria Mashhour, Minister of Human Rights, Al-Steen Street, Sana'a, Yemen, Telephone: +967 1 444 834, Fax: +967 1 444 833, Email: ramif1973@yahoo.com

Letters: 

Dear President/Prime Minister/Speaker of the House:

cc: Minister of Human Rights

I am deeply concerned about the prevalence of child marriage in Yemen. Reports from both Yemeni human rights groups and the press have highlighted a number of cases of young Yemeni girls who have undergone or been at risk of child marriage which has left them subject to many harmful and sometimes fatal, consequences. Yet, to date, the government has not passed a law setting a minimum age of marriage. While government officers have been intervening in individual cases of child marriage, their power to stop these marriages is severely limited without a law banning child marriages.

International organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on girls, including septic abortion, still births, death due to early pregnancy, deprivation of education, few social connections, restricted mobility, limited control over resources, little or no power in their new households and increased risk of domestic violence.

I am aware that draft legislation fixing the minimum age of marriage for girls at age 17 with penalties and punishment for violators has been pending in parliament since 2009. Passing it without delay would be a first step to helping girls escape abuse and allowing them to fulfill their potential. Banning child marriage is an international obligation of the Yemeni government under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) both of which contain provisions against the practice. In 2012, the UN Human Rights Committee in its examination of Yemen’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) expressed its concern that “a minimum age for marriage has still not been set and encounters great resistance in the Parliament” and called on Yemen to “set a minimum age for marriage that complies with international standards.”

In a promising new development Yemeni Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashhour has requested the reintroduction of the 2009 parliamentary bill that would effectively ban child marriages in the country. I support the Minister in her efforts to ensure that the government of Yemen lives up to its obligations under international law by passing a law prohibiting child marriage so that girls are no longer forced to undergo the harmful physical and psychological effects of child marriage.

I urge you to ensure that the draft child marriage bill is passed by parliament as soon as possible. Once passed, please ensure the law’s effective enforcement and punishment for those in violation. In addition, take measures to protect and promote the rights of girls who have ended or escaped child marriages, including by providing access to security, education and counseling.

I thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

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