HRW says women suffer from rape in post-election Kenya

Human Right Watch’s latest report says Kenyan government should fight sexual violence and provide medical care, psychosocial support and monetary compensation to victims

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

At least 1,133 people died and more than 600,000 displaced in temporary camps following Kenya's 2007-2008 post-election violence.

After 2007-2008 election, hundreds of girls and women in Kenya have been exposed to sexual violence especially rape and are struggling with devastating health problems including HIV, a rights group said on Monday.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), which interviewed more than 170 rape victims including female and male victims, published a report called ‘I Just Sit and Wait to Die’. According to this report women in Kenya were still in desperate need of medical attention and were unable to work, compounding their poverty.

The Kenyan government should urgently provide help and compensation to them, HRW added.

"We were shocked to find how many survivors are sick, living in poverty and stigmatised, ignored, and often rejected instead of helped by the government," said HRW women's rights researcher Agnes Odhiambo.

More than 1,200 Kenyans were killed and 600,000 displaced in weeks of ethnic bloodshed following a disputed election in 2007, according to the HRW report.

“The violence that erupted in Kenya between December 2007 and the end of February 2008 following a disputed presidential election included patterns of police use of excessive force against protestors as well as ethnic-based killings and reprisals by supporters aligned to both the ruling and opposition parties. It left at least 1,133 people dead and displaced more than 600,000 people” said HRW.

The report reveals some grim realities including some women and girls who were infected with HIV, moreover some were raped in front of family members, including young children.

“I have problems sleeping. Sometimes I can go to bed at 10pm, be up at 11:30pm, and not fall sleep again. I doze off a lot during the day. I think about the rape, my financial problems, and the death of my husband [in the violence]. I was running a clothes boutique business in Nakuru and I had good money. But now I have become a beggar. Sometimes I don’t have food. I don’t have any help from my family” Apiyo P, a 53-year-old mother of five who was gang-raped told HRW.

The report revealed that many sexual violence survivors are still in urgent need of medical treatment and psychosocial support in Kenya.

It said that while the government had provided limited compensation to people who were displaced or lost property, survivors of sexual violence had been largely ignored.

TRTWorld, Reuters