The Nightmare of Seeking Justice For Sexual Violence Survivors in Kenya

Service members and civilians participate in the 5k Run/walk in support of Sexual Assault Awareness Month at Kandahar Airfield April 1, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ashley Bell 130301-A-VM825-081)

​Justice for survivors of sexual violence remains to be an illusion that they seem to chase despite the enactment of the sexual offenses act which was enacted in response to curb the escalating sexual violence. According to the Kenya Domestic Household Survey (KDHS) 2014, 14 percent of women aged 15-49 reported having experienced sexual violence.

According to the Access to Justice Report, conducted by UN Women in 2015, 72.6 percent of survivors were unwilling to pursue justice; while only five percent of the survivors seen in facilities in 2014 were willing to go to court owing to insensitivity of law enforcers. The enactment of the Sexual Offences Act has not been matched with adequate training and dissemination of the Act to law-enforcement officers and relevant justice system agents.

Most of the police stations don’t have the p3 forms which is a crucial document required to be filled by the police at the station and a medical provider hence victims are made to go print or photocopy the form so it can be filled. The National guidelines on management of sexual violence state that p3 forms for victims of sexual violence including rape should be free but the trends in most counties in their Finance Acts is that they are imposing a fee on the p3 form. Most victims of sexual violence come from poor families hence this deters survivors from reporting and creates a barrier of access to justice.

There are few medical providers who are allowed to fill the p3 forms and this extends the time within which one can access medical attention and have p3 form filled which is a document required to institute a case. With the nature of injuries during rape which tend to heal fast and with the doctors being overwhelmed as they deal with hundreds of cases daily, there is a chance that when they get to examine a victim most of the wounds will have healed hence evidence destroyed and making conviction of the perpetrator very hard.

Despite there being such progressive laws in Kenya like the Sexual Offenses Act which was enacted in response to curb the escalating sexual violence, without proper implementation of the laws and policies by the stakeholders and lack of commitment by the parties the realization of justice is just a theory.

Author

Kevin Gitau Mwangi is an advocate of the high court currently practicing in Kenya and currently working with a Non-Governmental organization called Kenya Ethical and Legal Issues Network (KELIN) under the sexual reproductive health and rights  to ensure that human rights on reproductive health are integrated into policies, laws, and regulations

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