On one sunny afternoon on July 14, 2021, in Kanyiriri, a sleepy village in Nyandarua County, a 9-year-old girl accompanied her peers to fetch water at Murindat River.
After filling their jerry cans, they headed back home. However, on their way home, the girl was waylaid by a man who lured her back to the river and defiled her.
The defiler also gouged out the minor’s eyes using a sharp object leaving her for dead.
Her loss of sight not only deprived the then Grade One learner of the joy she had started enjoying with her peers in school but also ushered her into a world of uncertainty and desperation.
“I informed the neighbours that my daughter had disappeared and we embarked on a search mission. We found her after nightfall. Blood was oozing from her eyes,” narrated the victim’s father.
The minor was rushed to JM Kariuki Memorial Hospital in Ol Kalou.
He added, “At the hospital, we learned that her eyes had been removed. I could not believe that a human being could do this to my daughter. An innocent child.”
Bewildered medics at the hospital referred the minor to Kenyatta National Hospital.
On July 15, the family reported the matter at the Kanyiriri police base under OB NO: 4/15/7/2021.
One year later, the family is yet to get justice.
“We were told that a suspect who was linked to the heinous act had been arrested but my efforts to get further information from the police have always hit a dead end. The last time I went to Mirangine police station to enquire about the case they promised to give me a call which they never did,” he lamented.
While demanding justice for her daughter, the minor’s mother accused police of laxity and bungling investigations into the case.
She said many times, her daughter refused to eat and spent time crying.
“The stigma that my daughter was subjected to was more than what she bargained for. Sometimes she woke up at night to tell me that she had had a dream with restored eyesight,” wept the mother.
Contacted, Mirangine Sub County Police Commander John Maritim noted that the matter was handed over to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
“When the matter was reported I was on leave but the file was handed to the DCI. I am, however, promising to follow up on the matter,” Mr Maritim said.
While regretting the drastic rise in sexual violence-related crimes, Nyandarua County Education, Children and Gender executive Cecilia Kirira noted that the county was the most dangerous in gender-based violence with nearly three in every 10 people having been rushed to hospital with injuries in 2021.
“A government-funded study, the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS) shows that 27.6 percent of residents in the county ended up in hospital after fights. This is 16 times (more than) the national average of 1.7 percent,” Ms Kirira noted.
She said that the number could be higher if those that did not go to a hospital or lied to the doctors about the causes of their injuries are factored in.
Between July 2021 and 2022, data shows that 21 defilement cases were reported in the county.
Fourteen domestic violence-related cases, one rape case, four sexual assault cases, five threatening-to-kill cases and one murder case were reported in the county according to the data.