29 October 2007

Kenya: Report Shows 600 Women Raped Daily

Nairobi — More than 600 females are raped daily, a new report shows.

The report, compiled by Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC), indicates that the youngest rape survivor is five-months-old while the oldest is 86.

The statistics, which have been compiled in hospitals and community-based organisations where the victims go for treatment and counselling, approximate that there are at least 16,482 rape cases every year.

Reported cases of assault and battery in the country have also increased from 6,255 to 9,169 while a third of adolescent girls' first sexual experience is coerced, Health Policy Initiative Kenya adds.

The girls, who end up married at a tender age, report of power inequality in these relationships.

The risk of violence and sexual abuse is high among girls who are orphaned by Aids, many of whom face a heightened sense of hopelessness.

Most of the reported cases of rape are coupled with severe physical injury like excessive bleeding, strangulation and swollen faces.

The report also shows that incest contributes to the high number of rape victims while minors between the ages of one month to eight years are the highest targets. These cases are still rampant despite implementation of the Sexual Offences Act.

Of the 717 reported sexual abuse cases, 43.5 per cent involved are girls between the ages of one month to four years, while 33.2 per cent are aged between five and eight.

The lowest prevalence observed of the cases was 2.7 and those affected were girls between 17 and 18 years.

Speaking during the release of the report, former nominated MP, Ms Njoki Ndung'u, said something had to be done about the existing statistics.

"We do not have to wait to know how many more people are being assaulted or raped on a daily basis, rather we should work with the current figures," she said.

The report also indicated that of the 717 cases, 74.9 per cent were accounted to incest, non-relatives recorded 22.3 while the indecent assault registered the lowest with 2.8 per cent.

Although homes are considered safe, they contribute to more than 83 per cent of defilement cases.

Of the reported cases, 80 per cent occur in slums with 38.9 per cent occurring in Kibera, Mathare 32.2 per cent and Kawangware 28.9.

"Many people say the way women dress provokes men to rape, but some find themselves in circumstances where dressing is not an issue, for example infants," said Ndung'u, who pioneered the Sexual Offences Act 2006.

The report says the increase in rape cases in slums is attributed to their crowded nature where many families share tiny rooms.

While incest contributes largely, sexual violence cuts across all women, whether educated, illiterate, old, rich or poor. The GVRC statistics also indicate that 40 per cent of the 2,437 survivors treated at the centre are cases of defilement.

The proportion of children being treated for sexual violence has also increased from 28 per cent in April 2003 to over 41 per cent currently.

The report further said one in every four married, divorced or separated women experiences emotional violence from the current or recent husband.

Fourty per cent of them have or are experiencing physical violence while 16 per cent experience sexual violence.

It also indicated that of 750 cases reported from 2005, 35 per cent was related to domestic violence by intimate partners.

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