What you need to know:
- Victims of sexual violence suffer more harm in the process of making reports at the police stations, seeking medical examination and justice at the courts of law.
- There is no confidentiality at Police gender desks... the person sitting next to you can hear you narrate your experience.
- At the hospital, there are instances where the clinicians demand for pay to fill the P3 form.
Last year, Erica’s* 10-year-old son was molested by a security guard at a local private school in Nairobi.
Erica said the experience of reporting the abuse at a nearby police station came with a shock.
“The first time we went, we had to wait for more than three hours waiting for the officer in-charge of the gender desk. We were told she had gone to court,” she said in an earlier interview.
“After recording the statement, the officer said we had to facilitate her to conduct investigations and arrest the suspect. She asked for Sh5,000. I couldn't afford,” said Erica who worked at a private school in the slums with a monthly pay of Sh5,000.
She said she visited the police station three times to follow-up on the progress of the investigation but she was told until she facilitates the officer, nothing would be done any further. She gave up.
Erica’s predicament is just one example of many struggles survivors of sexual violence face in the quest for help from the government institutions.
During a two-day conference, last week, evaluating the progress made in implementing the 12 anti-gender-based violence commitments made by President Uhuru Kenyatta in June, 2021, participants highlighted many of them.
The conference organised by Equality Now and UN Women had representatives from the public, private and civil society as well as researchers and experts in data and gender equality matters in attendance.
They said victims of sexual violence suffer more harm in the process of making reports at the police stations, seeking medical examination and justice at the courts of law.
“The police will demand for facilitation to do their work yet the victim did not even have fare to reach the police station. Someone had helped the victim to travel all the way to the station,” said an angry Mary Makokha, the founder of Busia-based Rural Education and Economic Enhancement Programme organisation.
“There is no confidentiality at the gender desks. You sit on benches in the open space and the person sitting next to you can hear you narrate your experience. That’s really tormenting. We don’t want mere gender desks. We want quality gender desks where someone feels safe to report her case,” she added.
She said the justice system is equally brutal to the abused children.
“The cases delay and every time the date nears for hearing, the child will be reminded don’t forget how it happened. This is re-traumatising the child and the parent or the guardian,” she said.
“At the hospital, there are instances where the clinicians demand for pay to fill the P3 (Kenya Police Medical Examination Report) and PRC (post-rape care) forms. They say it takes time to fill. Others demand for facilitation to appear in court. What is that? What if the police did their job well? What if the clinicians did their job well?” she wondered.
Assistant Inspector General of Police and National Police Service (NPS) spokesperson Dr Resila Onyango said they endeavour to make it “comfortable and free” for the victims of gender-based violence (GBV) to report the violence.
“We strive to improve the stations to make them centres of excellence,” she said.
At the time of the conference, she said all the Officers Commanding Stations were in Kiganjo Police Training College undergoing training on GBV.
Under NPS exists an Internal Affairs Unit through which aggrieved members of the public can file their complaints against the police like the one asking Erica for money to investigate the abuse of her son.
But Erica said she had no knowledge of it. And she is among millions of Kenyans who have no idea how to go about it.
Meanwhile, Jacqueline Njagi head of the GBV division and victim and witness at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, said they have established a child-friendly unit in which they collect the evidence only once, thus eliminating the probability of retelling the traumatic event.