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Kenyan Rape Victims Present Demands to British Government - 2003-08-14


Hundreds of Kenyan women who claim they were raped by British soldiers, stationed in northern Kenya, are demanding compensation from the British government. Their representatives and lawyers met Thursday with British High Commissioner Edward Clay in Nairobi to present their demand.

About a half-dozen mixed-race children assembled in front of the British High Commissioner's Nairobi office under a sign reading, "Britain, these are half of your children, take responsibility." They were surrounded by a group of dozens of demonstrators that included Masaai women in traditional dress and representatives of human rights groups.

They were there to demand justice for the alleged rapes of Masaai women from the mid-1970s until 2001, by British soldiers who had been stationed in the district of Laikipia, 200 kilometers north of Nairobi.

British lawyer Martyn Day is filing a lawsuit against the British government on behalf of 650 Kenyan women. He says he is seeking $40,000 for each woman as compensation for the alleged rapes.

"I am absolutely confident that we are going to win this case and I will be very, very disappointed indeed if the British government was not prepared in the very near future to come to the negotiating table," he said.

But he says the main aim of Thursday's demonstration was to convince the British government to pay for the education of the 60 mixed-race children who are said to have been born as a result of those rapes.

"We're looking for them to be educated away from their communities, perhaps here in Nairobi where the international cosmopolitan nature of the communities here would enable them to have a proper education without the fear of being teased and taunted every single day of their lives," he said.

VOA was unable to reach the British High Commission for comment. But British investigators are in Kenya looking into the rape allegations. Kenyan human rights organizations plan to file a lawsuit of their own against the Kenyan government.

"For the Kenyan government, we certainly want them to take action against - the people whose cases were reported to and they didn't do anything," said Anne Gathumbi, coordinator for the Coalition on Violence Against Women. "We also want them to take responsibility for failing to protect these women."

Ms. Gathumbi is also calling for the Kenyan government to hold a public inquiry on the matter.

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