There was a lot of ire raised from Zerlina Maxwell’s idea in 2013. She had something going on according to her words that ignited a firestorm of hubbub when she sturdily recommended we stop telling women how not to get raped but instead, tell men not to rape women and initiate the conversation from there with prevention. Let me bring this topic closer to my home country. Sexual abuse is a crime that women fall prey to every 3 minutes in Kenya but hardly ever utter a word about. Perpetrators tend to get off far too easily mainly because victims are made to keep silent about the ordeal and have lost faith in the justice system. It is an act that has kept many silent. Reports state that at least 300 people are raped in our nation every day. Few reported cases due to stigma, the release of the offender in an out-of-court agreement with victim’s parents and poor evidence collection has added to fewer victims getting justice after going through rape.
“Now I know what next?” could be an immediate response for some, right about now! The truth is that most rape cases women experience are perpetrated by people they know and trust. I didn’t have to read about it because I heard it from several survivors I met during an official visit to Molo District Hospital.
This health facility in Nakuru County has seen how this social predicament affects the health of individuals, families and communities in the sub-county, creating the need for The Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) support group that currently supports 15 affected individuals with the help of Aphiaplus Nuru ya Bonde
“I make a living from selling charcoal and on this particular day, I went to the forest to get some firewood. Later in the day, someone I know stole my goods from my boma and sold them off at a throwaway price. I confronted him and he promised to replace them. I decided to tag along to the forest after he persuaded me to accompany him. The trees were crunching under my feet as we took the leaf-carpeted path into the forest, little did I know what plans he had for me,” narrated *Linnet Wanjiku, a beneficiary of the group’s 8 months program. She gave an account of that remorseful day with so much anger in her voice. Her instincts signaled her on the incoming danger and she decided to go back to the house. “On realizing my intention of leaving him behind, he forced himself on me with his panga on my throat, ripped my clothes off and… I closed my eyes, let my stream of consciousness take hold and drifted into infinity.” That is not all. I can’t get myself to write the whole story; too much to stomach and put in writing. Here’s the thing, we often hear of such incidences on our local radio stations and TV programs, but this was a one-on-one narration. I could see her bleed the salt of her soul as it poured from her eyes where she clenched fists. *Jane was my person of interest out of all the survivors I met. She is just 14 years. 14!!! At such a tender age, she was sexually abused for three consecutive days in an abandoned house, far from home. She is due in one month as a result of what she underwent.
“It takes patience and understanding to help the survivors and that is why the support group was formed”, Anne Muthari, the nursing officer in charge pointed out, and that the initial step to take in such cases is to administer PEP to the patients and take them through trauma counselling. “We first take care of their health then go on to the emotional aspect of the situation”. She further noted that most of the cases are still in court, yet to be effectively tended to.
The road to living a positive life after such an incident is not a smooth one, but the support group has greatly impacted the journey of the survivors. The group seeks to engage in sexual and domestic violence from a psychological perspective, therefore creating a platform for them to express their feelings and get counselling. It addresses this issue by increasing awareness and strengthening the community in prevention and intervention strategies with the help of the local police station and court.
This brings us to the awaited 26th September 2015, celebrating World Contraception Day. Join YourLifeCom and me on creating an awareness on this significant topic of contraception. Give us your thought on the use of contraceptives by young unmarried couples and individuals. Do you think it would have helped the 14-year-old survivor who is pregnant? If not, inform us of what we might have missed.