A worrying trend where relatives rape their kin to settle family feuds has emerged.
Increased cases of people raping their young relatives after domestic quarrels are being reported in Nyandarua, Kongoni, Molo and Gilgil areas.
This has left stakeholders dealing with these cases in shock and disbelief.
Incest has become the crudest means of punishing relatives in the country after any feud.
And as the children narrate their painful ordeals in the hands of these abusers who happen to be close family members, it is evident that these children will be haunted by these experiences for a long time.
Joyce Wairimu (not her real name) was allegedly gang-raped by six close family members three years ago.
This is an experience that the thirteen-year-old Joyce would give anything in the world to forget.
The family had fought over land and after six months her cousins dropped by to seek reconciliation.
RAPED BY COUSINS
Joyce was allegedly repeatedly defiled by her cousins who had dropped by their house en-route to visit their grandmother in Tulaga, Nyandarua.
At the time this happened, her mother was out in the farm and the irate relatives took advantage of that.
After fulfilling their mission, they left her unconscious and bleeding heavily.
Her mother came back thirty minutes later and and took her to hospital.
She was then treated and went back home and her parents assumed she was healed.
However, the experience of that unfortunate event still torments her and she often wakes up screaming.
She cannot attend any family gathering since she cannot be able to face her cousins, who are by now married and have children of their own.
However, Joyce says that failure by her parents to follow up the matter through legal channels has denied her justice.
This is what angers her most to this very day.
“My mother has never believed I was raped by her sisters children.
In fact, anytime we bring the story up she dismisses it. She accuses me of sleeping with other men and then blaming it on her relatives,” she says.
Her case is similar to that of six year old Anna Wanja (not her real name).
Two years ago she was allegedly raped by her uncle who is also her neighbour.
Wanja was reportedly way laid by her uncle who dragged her into a bush where he undressed her and raped her repeatedly.
Too young to even realise what was happening to her, she did not talk of the unfortunate event until later on in the evening when she went to pass urine and started crying.
On inquiry she told her mother that “ uncle Sam” had inserted painful things into her private parts.
The girls private parts were badly damaged and her poor parents have been unable to raise the Sh500,000 required for her treatment.
BARREN FOR LIFE
“Doctors have already told us that she will remain barren for life.
“It’s hurting to know that her life was ruined by her very uncle who no longer sees it as a big deal,” said Janet Njeri, the mother.
She claims that the family of the relative suspected to have done the heinous act approached her on several occasions and offered her Sh10 000 which she says was an insult to her.
Njeri has now turned into an outcast after she refused to agree to the “out of court” settlement.
She is no longer invited for weddings and other family gatherings.
She was even chased away when she went to attend her grandfather’s burial.
“The worst part is the fact that this man is ever chasing the young girl with his motorcycle and threatens to kill her if she continues telling people that he abused her,” said the mother.
Njeri believes that her daughter was raped as a result of a family land dispute.
INHERITED BIGGER PIECE
She inherited a bigger piece of land from her father and hence the bitterness by her brother towards her and her children.
A research done by the Naivasha law courts prosecutor Mike Muya indicates that of the 98 sexual assault cases that were brought to the law courts in 2012, eight of them involved relatives.
He says that the number could be higher since some cases go unreported.
Another worrying trend is that many suspects are never convicted due to lack of evidence as the victims are hidden away by relatives for fear of stigmatisation once the cases go public.
Muya also argues that the shortage of magistrates to specifically deal with rape cases involving minors had led to delayed justice.
” A case takes many years to be concluded because there are judges specific who deal with cases of minors.
They are also the ones who handle other cases in court and hence the workload is quite heavy,” he added.
Nyandarua area police boss Sammy Munyao admits that defilement has been a huge problem in the area.
He however blames it on the family settings, where people in the area refuse to marry from outside the community.
“People marry from the same area and after sometime, we find that they are all related.
Whenever families disagree they rape the children as a means of punishing the relative who offended them,” said Munyao.
Nyandarua South District Children’s officer David Koigi says that majority of these rape cases have seen families opt for out of court settlements.
Often, the aggrieved family is paid Sh10,000 or less as compensation, he says.
“In most cases we follow up on a defilement case only to find that the family of the victim chose for an out of court settlement.
They do this to avoid the embarrassment that would follow as a result of the cases being brought to the limelight when the right path of justice is followed,” he said.
“Cases of parents hiding the victim by sending her to a faraway place, mostly to live with other relatives are increasing at a worrying rate.
VICTIMS MISS COURT
This creates a problem especially when the victim has to testify in court and ends up missing several court sessions.
Often such cases are dismissed as the key witness is missing,” he added.
However, the main challenge has been in the filling of the P3 forms, which is a requirement in any sexual assault case.
In Nyandarua area, the forms are filled on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, which, according to Koigi, is tormenting to a child who has been defiled.
In most cases, the victims are also forced to pay Sh500 to have the form filled.
“The unavailability of doctors to interpret the P3 Forms has become a major challenge during court hearings.
After a magistrate looks for the doctor several times without success, he or she may give up and this can affect the case,” he added.
He attributes the increased cases of defilement and incest to drug abuse, especially the use of bhang, a drug which he says is grown in large quantities at the Aberdare Ranges.
Purity Wanjira, the chairperson of the Naivasha Women for Peace, blames the increased incest to poor housing.
“Many families are broken, with the mother living in rural areas leaving the children with their fathers. In such situations some men turn to their children and defile them.
Many times people realise that the girls are having affairs with their fathers when they become pregnant,’ said Wanjira.