Two sisters, Mary (age 6) and Joy (age 9), were raped by a man (age 20) in early October 2016 in rural Kenya. Their mother reported the case to the Kiganjo and Gatundu police stations almost immediately. The alleged rapist was arrested. However, the man’s relatives bribed the Kenyan police, and the perpetrator was released from police custody.
The mother of the violated girls sought assistance from one of the Stepping Stones facilitators who has been fighting for justice for sexual and domestic violence victims in the area. The mother of the girls is single, homeless, mentally challenged, HIV positive, and living in extreme poverty—and is herself a victim of repeated rape. Her youngest child, a 7-month-old boy, was conceived as a result of rape. The mother also received death threats by the alleged perpetrator’s relatives for reporting that her daughters were raped.
“Stepping Stones has taught us to stand for what is just.” - Joyce Njeri
The Stepping Stones facilitator, Joyce Njeri, contacted two other facilitators, John Kimani and Pastor Edward Gitau, for assistance. Together the three took the children to Gatundu Subcounty Hospital, where they were treated, put on post-exposure prophylaxis, and given a P3 record (indicating the girls were raped and hence authorizing prosecution of whoever did it). The facilitators also reported the case to the child welfare department in the ministry of social services.
The three Stepping Stones facilitators went to the Gatundu police station demanding to know why the case was abandoned. The police officers dismissed them with little explanation. The facilitators then contacted Kameme radio station, which broadcasts in the Kikuyu language and is locally very popular. The radio station and another three well-known Kikuyu radio stations took up the case. After gathering all relevant facts, the four radio stations broadcast news about the unfortunate miscarriage of justice. An uproar resulted, and the news was soon trending in other Kikuyu-speaking regions.
Through the intervention of local leaders, including the area Member of Parliament and the County Women Representative, the case has been taken up by the Department of Criminal Investigations in Nairobi Headquarters and the Office of Public Prosecution. The national headquarters of the child welfare office also became involved. In fact, the child welfare department has already taken the mother’s three children to a secure children’s home, where they are continuing to receive treatment and counseling. The mother has started receiving psychotic assistance from government psychologists as well. The perpetrator has also been arrested, and the case has been reopened.
Sexual abuse targeting children is not uncommon in Gatundu South Subcounty. One of the biggest enablers of the vice is the inability of victims to access justice even when they want to pursue it. Corruption within the investigating departments, especially the police service, is the biggest hurdle to jump. The courts take a very long time to determine cases, if they take action at all. This is the third case of child sexual abuse that Stepping Stones facilitators are pursuing. The other two cases are almost three years old, and they are not even halfway completed in the courts.
We are extending a prayer request that all people of goodwill stand with our Stepping Stones facilitators in Ngénda who are fighting against sexual, domestic, and other gender-based violence for victims like Mary, Joy, and their mother in a very toxic environment.
When journalists asked the facilitators why they were so courageous to take up the case, even with opposition from fairly senior police officers, Joyce Njeri replied, “Stepping Stones has taught us to stand for what is just.”
We therefore extend our thanks to all who supported the Stepping Stones program in Ngénda in 2013. The confidence we are seeing today from these brave community members is an encouraging result!
World Renew Kenya