News / Africa

    Report: Rape Victims in Kenya Post-election Violence Still Suffer

    Jaqueline Mutere, 48, was raped in December 2007 by a man she knows. She started Grace Agenda, a community-based organization to support survivors of sexual violence.
    Jaqueline Mutere, 48, was raped in December 2007 by a man she knows. She started Grace Agenda, a community-based organization to support survivors of sexual violence.
    Jill Craig

    Hundreds of women and girls still bear the physical and mental scars of sexual violence following Kenya's post-election turmoil in 2007 and 2008.  A new Human Rights Watch report released Monday says the government has not helped them.

    Human Rights Watch said some 900 women and girls were victims of sexual violence during the post-election period and many cases likely were unreported. 

    The group said lack of medical attention left many survivors unable to work or pursue an education, and therefore they remain stuck in poverty.
     
    Jacqueline Mutere is a rape survivor who alleges she was attacked by her neighbor’s friend who entered her house by force, saying he was seeking refuge from the violence outside.
     
    “I realized that he did not have very noble intentions, because we started pushing and shoving, he started making advances at me, and I refused them,” Mutere said.  “I had my small kids in the room, in the house, they were sleeping, and I wasn’t going to accept his advances, especially with brute force, no way, no way. So he became violent, extremely violent. Slapped me around a few times, actually. He burst my eardrum.”

    Maua E., 53, at her relocated home in Rift Valley. Maua went to a hospital for treatment two days after being gang raped but the health workers ridiculed her and delayed treatment.
    Maua E., 53, at her relocated home in Rift Valley. Maua went to a hospital for treatment two days after being gang raped but the health workers ridiculed her and delayed treatment.

    Physical, mental harm

    HRW’s Agnes Odhiambo is senior researcher for women’s rights in Africa and interviewed survivors for the report.  

    “Women have a lot of injuries, back injuries, leg injuries, chest injuries, because the rapes were just so brutal,” said Odhiambo.  “They included kicking women, slapping them, cutting them with machetes, pulling legs apart...”

    Odhiambo said victims also suffered mentally.
     
    “Women were talking about having sleepless nights, not being able to concentrate at work because they keep thinking about the rape, and let’s not forget that these women were not just raped, they were also affected just like other victims of the post-election violence by losing their homes, losing their loved ones – husbands, children – in the violence,” said Odhiambo.

    Fatma W. with her 7-year old son born from rape. She said her neighbors stigmatize her son because he was born from rape.
    Fatma W. with her 7-year old son born from rape. She said her neighbors stigmatize her son because he was born from rape.

    Stigmatized

    According to Odhiambo, many victims were gang-raped by anywhere from four to at least 10 men, at times in front of family members, including young children, and were stigmatized by their husbands and communities.  Some women contracted sexually transmitted diseases, became pregnant, or both.
     
    Because abortion is illegal in Kenya, even in rape cases, some women obtained so-called “back street” or "back alley" abortions that left them with severe internal damage.  Those who carried their pregnancies to term faced additional abuse and discrimination, as did their children.  
     
    “Mothers were talking about not having been able to secure birth certificates for the children because when they went to their registration offices, they were required to produce the name of the father,” said Odhiambo.  “Now, these women, they don’t know what is the name of the father, this was a rape.  Many of them were gang rapes.”

    When women reported their rapes, they were often told to find their perpetrator and bring him to the police or were accused of lying for political reasons.  

    Â Mwende T., 16 at the time, was raped in January 2008 by a neighbor who said he would help her to escape marauding youths. When she went to the police to report the rape, a police officer said she was lying.
    Â Mwende T., 16 at the time, was raped in January 2008 by a neighbor who said he would help her to escape marauding youths. When she went to the police to report the rape, a police officer said she was lying.


    The report also states that police officers and members of the paramilitary police unit known as the GSU were themselves responsible for ‘a lot of’ the attacks.

    “So a woman would tell you, ‘one police officer was standing at the door of my house, as the other one was raping me and then they kept taking turns,” said Odhiambo.

    The government has acknowledged rapes occurred during that period, but has not offered assistance to the victims.  Human Rights Watch is urging the government to use its "restorative justice" fund of about $9.8 million, announced last March, to help survivors, especially those urgently needing medical and psycho-social services.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora