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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KENYA: Sexual violence continues in IDP camps

KENYA: Sexual violence continues in IDP camps

NAKURU, 4 March 2008 (PlusNews) – Residents in a camp for displaced persons in Nakuru, in Rift Valley Province, western Kenya, were deeply shocked when a gang of men attacked and sexually assaulted five boys, but the health officials dealing with sexual violence during the recent political upheaval have had to become immune.

“Since the violence started we are seeing similar numbers of cases to what we would normally see over the same timespan, but there is one major difference: 90 percent of the cases we are seeing since the political crisis began are gang rapes,” said Lucy Kiama, head of the Gender Violence Recovery Centre at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital. “The gangs range from groups of two men to as many as eleven.”

An estimated 300 women have been treated for rape since the year began, many of them women and girls who had travelled from Rift Valley Province to the capital, Nairobi, often a journey of hundreds of kilometres that could take many hours by bus. Continue reading