Kenya: Implement the Sexual Offenses Act and ensure justice for all victims of sexual violence
Although Kenya has progressive laws to curb sexual and gender-based violence, systemic failures by the country’s justice system coupled with impunity worsen an already dire situation.
One month ago, a 17 year old girl in Kenya’s Busia County went to fetch water – 300 meters away from her grandmother’s house. Three days later, her body was discovered by her seven year old cousin and her grandmother lying in a bush. Her right hand had been chopped off and her tongue was missing. She had also been defiled. Since then, only one of her assailants has been arrested; the others remain at large. Sadly, she represents one of 40 women and girls who have lost their lives to sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya between January and May 2019 and is among scores of others who have been sexually violated in Kenya.
Although Kenya has put in place numerous progressive laws to curb sexual and gender-based violence, systemic failures by the country’s justice system coupled with shocking levels of impunity worsen an already dire situation. Indeed women’s and girls’ right to bodily autonomy is largely treated with contempt given that perpetrators often get away with these violations whenever cases are not highlighted in the media. For instance when Liz was brutally gang raped and thrown down a pit latrine unconscious in 2017, her attackers would have easily gotten away with the brutal attack had it not been for the outcry that was raised by civil society organizations together with the media attention that her case generated.
Kenya is party to a raft of regional and international conventions including the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women but similarly this robust legal frameworks are not enforced.
Much more needs to be done to make access to justice a reality for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Kenya. Putting up laws that are not accompanied by the requisite implementation mechanisms is a disservice to girls and women in Kenya.
Please join Equality Now in urging President Uhuru Kenyatta; the Ministries of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs; Interior and Coordination of National Government; and Health; as well as the State Law Office and Department of Justice; and the National Gender and Equality Commission to ensure that girls and women are protected from sexual and gender-based violence without any reservations. The Kenyan State has an obligation to protect all women and girls from violence and to ensure perpetrators are punished for the heinous crimes they commit.
You can also help by:
- Encouraging survivors of sexual and gender-based violence to report these violations;
- Reporting incidents of sexual and gender-based violence whenever they occur; and
- Ensuring that you protect the dignity of sexual and gender-based survivors
Learn more about sexual and gender-based violence and access to justice in Kenya.