Kenya: 165 Children Defiled Monthly, Says Police Report

Nairobi — Sex pests are on the prowl and are mostly targeting children.

As other crimes decrease, police say defilement incidents rose by 37 per cent last year.

Despite the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act two years ago, the 2007 police crime statistics show 165 children were defiled every month, which translates to six minors daily.

A total of 1,984 children had their lives shattered by rapists.

The crime report released last week indicates that cases of sexual assault of women and children are more than murder cases.

Children, girls and women are no longer safe at home, places of work, school or on the road.

Police say 2,860 women and children were defiled. But the number could be higher because these were the reported cases only.

Many parents and victims would rather keep a sexual assault or rape incident to themselves, fearing stigmatisation and the rigours of the judicial system.

Nyeri District Children Officer, Mr Paul Kisavi, says: "Some mothers would rather not report the case to the authority. The victims, especially children, end up traumatised."

This year, the figures may go up due to chaos that followed the disputed presidential election. Hundreds of rape cases have been reported in IDP camps.

Every day, victims of rape and defilement turn up at Nairobi hospitals and clinics.

"I could not run away. They gagged my mouth and pinned me down," a woman told The Standard at a hospital in the city.

The Mathare resident said a gang of three raped and robbed her of Sh2,000.

Health workers and the UN say there are hundreds of women who have been raped.

Staff at Nairobi Women's Hospital, a leading centre for treatment of sexual and gender violence victims, say the number of assault cases have been on the rise since December.

Ms Rahab Ngugi, a patient service manager at the hospital, said they have received more than 150 cases of rape and defilement.

"We used to see an average of four cases a day, now there is an average of between eight and 10," she said.

Almost half of the victims are girls under 18. A two-year-old girl is also a victim.

Only a small percentage of women go for treatment and counselling after a sexual attack, said Ngugi.

This paints a bleak picture on the fight against HIV/Aids since most rapists do not use condoms.

Despite Parliament passing the Sexual Offences Bill, gangsters are increasingly raping women during robberies or carjacking.

Last year, many bus passengers were raped. Four months ago, thugs carjacked a Busia-bound bus, robbed passengers and raped women.

Sometimes, fathers turn against their daughters. Last year in Nyandarua, villagers lynched a 50-year-old man who had impregnated his daughter twice.

Another man was in December caught defiling his nine-year-old daughter in Tetu, Nyeri.

Kisavi says cases of fathers raping their children had risen by 10 per cent, with two cases reported every month.

Central Province is leading in the number of rape, defilement and sodomy cases. The crimes are common in poor families. In Nairobi, for instance, most defilement occurred in Kibera, Mathare, Kawangware and Githurai. These are areas with many unemployed youth.

A family counsellor, Ms Wangui Mwangi, says such incidents can shatter a victim's life. Besides the psychological trauma, rape and defilement are associated with serious reproduction problems.

The stigma, says Mwangi, plunges the victim into silence, which hinders them from getting help.

Sexual abuse on children and young adolescents is also increasing at family level.

The World Health Organisation estimates a prevalence of 25 per cent for girls and eight for boys.

Mrs Ann Njogu, executive director of the Centre for Rehabilitation and Education of Abused Women (Creaw) decries harassment by police when dealing with rape cases. The harassment, she says, discourages many victims from reporting rape cases.

She said Creaw had received many complaints on mistreatment of rape victims.

"Special desks at police stations, which were meant to attend to the sexually abused persons, no longer work. Most women are not reporting such cases," said Njogu.

Creaw is collecting information on gender-based violence, including rape and defilement.

Njogu said they would soon revive the 4Cs anti-rape campaign to help vulnerable persons know the danger spots.

"We are planning to initiate the campaigns again after the shocking statistics from the police, which show defilement is rampant once again," said Njogu.

The Sexual Offenses Act provides harsher punishment to rapists and sexual offenders.

Those who attempt or sexually assault a child are liable to 15 years in prison.

Meanwhile, a woman, 43, was gang-raped in her house in Murang'a.

The mother of four, who was admitted to Murang'a District Hospital, was alone in her Gitugi home when the gun-totting thugs struck.

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