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October-30-13

Outrage Over Kenya Rape Grows

People around the world are calling for justice for a 16-year-old Kenyan girl who was brutally beaten, gang-raped, and thrown into a 20-foot latrine by six men in June.

The girl, whom media outlets are calling "Liz," was walking home from her grandfather's funeral in Kenya's northwestern county of Busia when the men attacked her. The attack caused severe spinal cord injuries and fistula, leaving her reliant on a wheelchair to get around and unable to control her bowels.

Liz was found crawling out of the latrine and crying for help by villagers nearby. She knew some of the attackers, so she gave the people helping her their names. They then chased three of the men down and took them to the local police station. There, police ordered the men to to cut grass as their only punishment; the men were then let go--even though under Kenya's Sexual Offences Act they should receive no less than 15 years in prison. In addition, Liz's mother was told to clean her off, destroying potential forensic evidence.

In a statement, the Kenya Coalition on Violence Against Women called the situation "yet another example of blatant impunity and repeated noncompliance by the police and other government authorities. Rape and other gender crimes have consistently been treated as lesser crimes--this is unacceptable."

The attack came to the world's attention thanks to Jared Momanyi, the director of a Kenyan clinic that specializes in treating victims of sexual violence. He was so outraged when Liz's case was referred to him that he called a reporter at the Daily Nation in Nairobi. He said of this case, "This was an attempted murder and it's not an isolated case; it's one among many."

Since then, 4,000 pounds has been raised to pay for an operation to repair Liz's internal injuries, and the global campaigning network Avaaz launched an online petition calling for immediate arrest and prosecution of the rapists and disciplinary action for the police officers. It currently has over 1,270,000 signatures, and that number grows every second. The director of public prosecutions in Kenya has ordered the national police to investigate why the local force did not investigate the rape, but so far there have been no updates.

"My wish is to see justice done," Liz said.

Media Resources: World Health Organization 3/2010; BBC 10/28/13; CNN 10/27/13; The Guardian 10/26/13; Avaaz

   

     

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