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Despite government assurance, Kenya sees post-election rerun violence

By Njeri Kimani,

NAIROBI – At least 60 Kenyans were subjected to gender based violence from security agencies during the chaos that rocked the country following the August 8th poll in Dandora, Mathare, Kisumu and other affected areas, sources say.

Disturbing reports indicate a disturbing pattern where the perpetrators, were mostly police officers and men in uniform who were deployed in the area to protect the communities AFFECTED by the   election related violence.

Other reported perpatrators included militia group and gang members who took advantage of the chaos. Cases of sexual violence involved rape, gang rape, sexual assault, indecent assault and forced nudity accompanied by severe physical assault, according to the Human Rights Watch report.

Ten years ago, the Commission Of Inquiry into the 2007 Post Election Violence documented 900 cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence, which it termed as a “tip of the ice berg.”

Kimani Nyoike, a Human Rights activist, admits that rape was one of the tools that was being used to “make a statement” to a cross section of Kenyan communities.

“Police were very much involved in GVB. Sadly other recorded cases included supporters of various candidates as well as the emergence of gangs. We had a sad case of Nimo who was raped and her six month old unborn baby ripped from her womb. Its unfortunate that this could happen in our country,” he added.

Human right activist Vincent Tanui confirms that there are over 60 documented cases of gender based violence against women in the previous elections from security agencies. He cited Mathare, Nairobi and Kisumu as the hardest hit.

“In whatever conflict, including the Kenyan elections, sexual gender based violence is used as a tool of war. The perpetrators use this to further humiliate and subjugate women. In the cases noted it was not accidental as it was being used to demean and punish communities which were parties in the conflict.” he added.

The government denial of such cases, Tanui claimed, was a classic response.

“Ironically they even denied that people were being killed by police in the August 8th and October 26 post election wars.  Yet, people were still being treated for gunshot wounds in hospitals. For instance, Baby Pendo was killed yet the government they were still shifting responsibilities,” he added

The Human Rights Watch raised concern over the inability of survivors of sexual violence to access timely and appropriate medical services hampered the collection and documentation of medical forensic evidence that is vital to support accountability efforts.

The Center for Enhancing Democracy and Good Governance called for the prosecution  of the perpetrators of GBV, citing that most of the cases went unnoticed.

“There is urgent need to bring to book the people who were behind the increased cases of rape, harassment and beating of individuals. The use of GBV as a tool of war has continually forced many of the victims to suffer and live with lifelong consequences including unwanted pregnancies or HIV. The law should take effect against the culprits, who in some cases can be positively identified by the victims,” said John Kamande, CEDGG Program Coordinator.

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