Tana River's huge incest problem

According to Amina**, their father would defile them and force them to take a bath and wash their clothes at night.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

Amina Rahman's*** (real name withheld) father is serving a life sentence behind bars for defiling her and her 11-year-old sister in July 2021. 

She was only 14 years old when it happened and is still struggling to overcome the experience that left her pregnant. 

"He used to defile us on a roster. He would come for me one night and then turn to my sister the following night at our home in Lenda in Hola, Tana River County," she narrated. 

Reeling from the pain and shock, Amina and her sister never talked to anyone about the assaults, fearing that no one would believe them, and so her father took advantage of their silence to repeatedly defile them. 

When their mother learned about what her husband was doing to them, she notified a chief, but the man threatened her with death and she had to flee. 

According to Amina, their father would defile them and force them to take a bath and wash their clothes at night.

After months of silence, Amina fell into depression and her grades in school deteriorated. 

Her teachers became worried and decided to interrogate her, but she was reluctant to disclose the guarded secret. 

"I was not willing to share, not because I did not want my father arrested, but because of the shame it would bring me if people knew what was happening," she said. 

But she eventually opened up to the person she found solace in, her class teacher. 

The teacher advised her not to wash up the next time the father defiled her, but to pretend she had cleaned up. 

That night, the father turned up for her, defiled her, and as usual placed a basin of water behind the house for her to take a bath. 

She kept the clothes and took them to her teacher, who sought the arrest of the man responsible. 

"When he was arrested, I was happy. I knew my sister and I would be free from the trauma. I knew we would be reunited with our mother," she said. 

But three months later, the teachers noticed body changes on her and sought a medical test for her. 

She was three months pregnant and that was one of the toughest experiences of her life. 

She contemplated suicide and abortion but well-wishers kept her under close watch. 

With the help of Groots Kenya, an organisation that helps girls to access psychosocial support, she was placed in a recovery centre. 

"We partnered with the county health department and the police gender desk in Hola to guide her and counsel her," said Rahma Adan, Groots Kenya project coordinator. 

Ms Adan said it has not been easy for the girl, as she is struggling to live with the trauma. 

Amina carried her baby to term and gave birth to a boy last March through a caesarean section, but she refused to stay at the recovery centre. 

She has since gone back to school and will sit the KCPE exams this year. 

"We knew it was going to be difficult on her and the baby, so we thought we should stay with her and do more counselling, but she insisted on going home with her mother," said Ms Adan. 

She is one of many children dealing with the trauma of being molested by close relatives.  

She testified before Hola Magistrate Aloise Ndege, who handed a life sentence to her father last December. 

Cases of defilement are on the rise in Tana River County, with close relatives singled out for the crime, said Gender Recovery Centre Coordinator Hawaa Abdighafoor. 

Some cases, she said, involve children below 12 years old defiled by elderly men, uncles and stepfathers, who later run away aided by some members of the community. 

"We try the best we can to guide and counsel, but it is never enough if the victims are released to the same environment," Ms Abdighafoor said. 

"For such victims to recover, it can take more than three years. What we have in the county cannot allow us to keep them beyond six months."  

Ms Abdighafoor noted that the recovery centre handles more than 10 cases every month.