Rising incest cases in Meru cause for alarm
What you need to know:
- A child rights organisation based in Meru, has raised the alarm over rising cases of incest, which account for 98 per cent of all cases it handles.
- Last year, data from the national hotline 1195 indicated that 59 of the 160 incest cases reported between 2018 and June 2021 were committed by fathers.
Jane (not her real name), an eight-year-old girl from Meru, has had to undergo reconstructive surgery after she was defiled and sodomised by her biological father last year.
The suspect was arrested while the child underwent psychosocial support at Ripples International’s Tumaini Rescue Centre.
Jane is among several girls rescued this year by Ripples, a child rights organisation based in Meru, with majority being victims of sexual violence perpetrated by relatives.
The organisation has raised the alarm over rising cases of incest, which account for 98 per cent of all cases it handles.
Neighbours and other persons known to the victims also account for a huge percentage of perpetrators of sexual violence.
Last year, data from the national hotline 1195 indicated that 59 of the 160 incest cases reported between 2018 and June 2021 were committed by fathers.
Jane Nyambura, a counsellor at Ripples told Nation.Africa that there has been a rise in the number of defilement cases since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
“We receive victims of sexual and gender-based violence but majority are victims of defilement. It is unfortunate that fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins and neighbours are top perpetrators. The problem with incest cases is that it is discovered after several incidents,” she said, noting that most defilement cases involving relatives or close people are discovered after the victim falls pregnant or develops complications.
“In some cases, we have to provide counselling to victims for so many months before they are ready to testify. Some cases have been postponed severally because the victims break down when they attempt to speak in court,” she said.
Ripples resident lawyer John Burke Baidoo, said defilement by relatives was difficult to prosecute due to family interference. He added that while some cases have been successfully prosecuted, some fail due to lack of evidence where witnesses, who are relatives, refuse to testify.
“In some instances, mothers cover up when they discover the girl’s father is involved,” Mr Baidoo said.
He cited lack of sufficient evidence in defilement cases, leading to successful appeals even where perpetrators have been found guilty.
“We have been training investigators on handling and preservation of evidence so that we have water-tight cases. Defilement cannot be proved clearly without a DNA test,” he said.