'I'll never rest until my daughter gets justice' Busia dads' take on sexual predators

Fathers in Busia County are breaking off from the tradition of conspiring with perpetrators against their own daughters to deny them justice.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • In Busia County, fathers like Mike* and Ali* are breaking from tradition by refusing bribes and actively seeking justice for their daughters who have been victims of sexual abuse.
  • Despite facing challenges including prolonged court cases and disappearing evidence, they remain committed to their daughters' justice journey.

At 2am on October 26, 2022, Mike* was having a good night's sleep after a long day of teaching at a high school in Busia County, some few kilometres from his home.

He lived in the teachers’ quarters far from his family. Suddenly, a vibrating phone on a bedside table shook him from the slumber land. It was his wife.

The moment he saw her name light the phone’s screen, he knew something was wrong. Are they being attacked?  Have thieves broken into the house? What is it?

In the midst of this confusion, he picked up the phone only to hear his wife crying. For almost a minute, she was just gulping and Mike couldn’t understand what she was saying.

When she finally got hold of herself and clearly stated the reason for her calling, Mike felt like he had been struck by lightning.

Her youngest daughter of four years had been defiled by a 40-year-old family friend and neighbour.

“I was filled up with so much anger that the only thing that crossed my mind was killing that man. How would he do that to my daughter?” Mike rewinds the emotions.

He dressed up immediately and got out of the house to board a vehicle without caring that at the time, there were no public service vehicles on the road.

“I just couldn’t stay in the house anymore. It was no longer inhabitable. I waited until 5.30am when I finally got the vehicle and in 30 minutes, I was outside the man’s house,” he explains.

“It was locked with a padlock from outside. He had run away. Had I found him, today I’d be talking from prison. I’d have killed him.”

His daughter was in the care of his wife who ran a shop in one of the shopping centres in Busia. The perpetrator supplied them with grain products and lived behind the shop.

On this day, in the afternoon hours, the daughter was playing in the open field before the shop with the son of the perpetrator, when he called Mike’s daughter, pulled her to a nearby open air structure where he violated her.

A neighbour caught him in the act and raised an alarm, saving the minor from the claws of the sexual criminal.

Life in jail

Once convicted under the Sexual Offences Act (2006), his sentence is to spend the rest of his life in jail, away from all children.

Busia is among the counties with the highest prevalence of sexual violence. The 2022 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey found that overall 14.7 per cent of women and girls aged 15-49 had experienced the violence in their lifetime.

Defilement is not just a criminal act, it infringes on the bodily autonomy of a girl and disgustingly crushes her right to protection and right to be free from any form of harm, protections clearly provided for in the Children’s Act (2022).

Unfortunately, often families in Busia solve defilement cases, especially those involving a known family friend or neighbour in a manner cruel to the child.

“Parents are compromised to keep their name and that of the perpetrator. You wonder, what about the child? Did they think of how the defilement affects the child? It’s horrible,” a bothered Mary Makokha retorts.

But the founder of Rural Education and Economic Enhancement Program, an organisation she started in 1999 to primarily advocate for end of sexual violence in Busia County, is encouraged.


Fathers are breaking off from the tradition of conspiring with perpetrators against their own daughters to deny them justice.

Founder of Rural Education and Economic Enhancement Program Mary Makokha from Busia County speaks at a workshop held at Safari Park Hotel on September 14, 2023. 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

They are now the ones following up with the police to demand for the arrest of the perpetrators, accompanying their daughters to hospital and to court. When the perpetrators approach them with bags of bundles of Sh300,000, Sh200,000 and Sh100,000, they chase them away like lost dogs.

“Will money restore my child’s life? Will it? Will it make her forget the horrors of that experience?” asks Mike.

Mike is among the many men in Busia who have refused to be blinded by the few coins thrown onto their faces to drop charges against the sexual offenders.

Mike took unauthorised leave not by choice, but because he was so confused that he forgot to inform the principal of what’s going on. But he later notified the principal who allowed him to officially proceed with the leave.

“I made sure he was arrested. The family tried to intervene by bringing me money. I wouldn’t imagine that they had the audacity to bribe me out of my child’s pain. What kind of madness is that?” he wonders.

The case is ongoing and anytime they have to appear in court, Mike has to take leave from work.

The whole experience is tortuous to Mike.

“Whenever my daughter asks me ‘Daddy, am I going to see that old man who defiled me, again?’ I feel like I’m dying. I go numb and speechless. How do you answer that question?” he asks.

Worst still is that for nearly two years, the relationship between the dad and daughter was sour.

It changed from that of a lively girl who could jump into his father’s arms whenever he came home or was around to a dull daughter who could run and lock herself in the room once she spotted him.

“I was deeply hurt. The hurt is indescribable. How can your own child avoid you like you’re a serpent? My wife too, could not allow me to be near her. She could tell me ‘the man who defiled her is like you. You men, how can you do that to a child?” he says.

When he could not take it any longer, he reached out to Mary who availed him, his daughter and his wife counselling and this eased out their frayed relationship.

“Through frequent pleasure trips, my daughter started to come closer and these days, she tells me everything. And my wife, I can say, stopped burdening me with doubt,” he says.

Mike is happy to be part of his daughter’s justice journey.

But what keeps him awake at night is when the perpetrator will be finally convicted.

“The case has taken too long and the perpetrator is playing dilly-dallying tricks of changing lawyers every now and then. We should have a deadline of concluding defilement cases within six months,” he recommends.

Ali* too, is walking the long painful journey with his daughter.

In 2019, his 13-year-old daughter was defiled by a son of an army officer. His case is that of desperation.

When he refused to take the Sh200,000 the family offered, the exhibit of the bedsheet and clothes that his daughter wore during the violation suddenly disappeared from the exhibit’s store together with the file.

Further, the witnesses who had earlier accepted to testify in favour of his daughter, suddenly declined to do so.

“It’s a nightmare that I cannot put into words. My daughter has suffered, hadn’t not been for counselling from Mary, by now she would be too deep into depression,” he says.

“I have also struggled to deal with the pain. I always feel like my world has come to an end every time I have to make a trip to court to follow up on the case. I’ll never rest though until my daughter gets justice. I’m happy the counselling from Mary has helped me to pull through the pain. It’s a pain that no one can ever explain to you how it feels.”

According to the sexual offences law, a person who defiles a child between the age of 12 and 15 is subject to a jail term of not less than 20 years.

Ali says: “To all those who have defiled our daughters, may you be severely punished for torturing our daughters.”

Mary says fathers come to her when they are “so broken that the first thing you have to do for them is counselling.”

“I’m so happy that they are coming out to fight for their daughters to get justice. These are our champions. And we need to support them so they can support their fellow men who are yet to gather the courage to openly talk about the pains they are going through to seek justice for their daughters,” she says.