Published December 14, 2017
A rights body has accused authorities in Kenya of having failed to ‘prevent election-related sexual violence, properly investigate cases, hold attackers accountable, and ensure that survivors have access to comprehensive, quality, and timely post-rape care’.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a report released in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on December 14, 2017, says Kenya’s general elections were characterised by widespread sexual violence.
The 31-page report titled They Were Men in Uniform: Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Kenya’s 2017 Elections, says some of the perpetrators of violence against women and girls were members of Kenya’s ‘security forces’.
HRW says impunity for sexual violence in Kenya undermines women’s ability to report sexual crimes to police and that Kenyan authorities have ‘long ignored election-related sexual crimes and victims’ suffering’.
Past government plans to assist victims of, say, the 2007-2008 violence, HRW says, have excluded rape survivors who have also been denied medical or other assistance. Barriers to reporting, problems with the collection of forensic evidence, and the unwillingness of authorities to initiate genuine, credible, and fair investigations and prosecutions to punish attackers were key challenges in Kenya after the 2007-2008 election-related rapes, and remain a problem, HRW says.
“Sexual violence survivors should not be left suffering and ashamed of being victims while the Kenyan government shows no shame at failing to meet their needs or to prosecute their attackers,” Agnes Odhiambo, senior women’s researcher at HRW, said. “Instead of downplaying the election-related sexual abuse, the Kenyan government should ensure that all survivors get appropriate medical care and justice.”