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Kenya Violence Brings Increase in Rapes, Including Gang Rapes

The political violence and turmoil has taken its toll on women in Kenya. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) says there’s been an increase in rapes, including gang rapes. Also thousands of pregnant women are unable to get to medical facilities. The UN agency is working closely with the Red Cross to supply “clean delivery kits,” which include plastic sheeting, soap and blankets and razor blades to cut the umbilical cord.

Florence Gachanja is the national program officer for the UN Population Fund in Kenya. From Nairobi, she first spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about helping rape victims.

“We are working with one hospital in Nairobi…that has outreach services in so many camps (for the displaced) where our Red Cross is working. And what they are telling us is that particularly in Nairobi, from the slums, they are getting a number of cases (women) who have been raped. But unfortunately, some of them are coming very late. And those who are coming in say they are in the slums; they were gang raped. Some of the women have not even been able to the hospital because of threats from some other people or there’s no security. Or they don’t even have transport to be able to reach the hospital,” she says.

“In the camps, “Gachanja says, “there is not a well organized way of reporting the cases. And this is why we want to identify what the problem is.”

Rape victims are encouraged to get to health clinics as soon as possible so they can receive post-exposure Prophylaxis or PEP to prevent possible infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. “The women need to come early for the treatment because after 72 hours the drugs may not be useful anymore. So they need to get to the facilities where these are being given, or within the crisis centers within the camps, so that they can get the treatment before 72 hours are over.”

If a woman is already infected with HIV, PEP won’t help in that regard. However, women will also be treated for sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis and Chlamydia.

Besides the medical treatment, UNFPA and the Red Cross are providing trauma and psychological counseling and legal support.