Women still a target as Kenya’s social wounds gape

Women still a target as Kenya’s social wounds gape


By Lisa Ntungicimpaye

NAIROBI, April 24 (Reuters) – More than three months have passed since youths stormed Mary’s home in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, slashing her leg with a machete as she fled.

But the single mother of five still shudders at the thought the men may hunt her down again, rape or kill her because she belongs to a rival ethnic group.

To the outside world, life in Kenya may have returned to normality as a power-sharing accord drew the line under some of the worst tribal clashes since independence from Britain. But for Mary and others like her, the terror goes on.

‘We all used to live together. We don’t know where this evil comes from,’ said the 49 year old, nervously fingering the gash in her leg that has yet to heal.

With no sign yet that the rule of law is returning to her neighbourhood, the Kikuyu woman fears her Luo neighbours may come after her again. She is too afraid to give her last name.

Besides more than 1,200 people killed, 300,000 were uprooted and hundreds more sexually assaulted in the wave of violence and reprisal attacks triggered by President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election in December.

As is often the case, women and children were prime targets: the United Nations said the rate of reported rapes doubled during Kenya’s crisis. The youngest victim was 1 year old.

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