A drunken Kenyan policeman who allegedly blindfolded, gagged, beat and raped his pregnant wife with a bottle and a rod until she lost consciousness must be arrested, lawyers said on Thursday.
The Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA) has sent a pro bono lawyer to Meru, 200 km north-east of Nairobi, to meet the woman and to follow up with her case at the police station.
"We are worried there could be some kind of sabotage because this is a police officer," FIDA's chairwoman, Ruth Aura, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Due diligence needs to be ensured to ensure this arrest is effected in good time and not to cover up evidence."
People accused of assault are normally arrested immediately, Aura said, but there is likely to be some reluctance in this case because the police would have to arrest one of their colleagues.
Kenya has no law against domestic violence and the police often treat it as a private, family matter. Domestic violence is widely accepted and only a tiny percentage of women press charges against their attackers because of the cost and lack of faith in the justice system, according to research by Nairobi's Gender Violence Recovery Centre.
Globally, intimate partners are responsible for 38 percent of women's murders, according to the World Health Organization.
The 31-year-old woman said her husband came home at 3am on April 19 and ordered her to strip naked, hit her and threatened to kill her, the Daily Nation reported.
"He took a bottle that he had carried with him and [a] rod, and inserted them into my private parts," she told the paper. "He then blindfolded me and gagged my mouth."
He switched on the television to drown out her screams, she said.
The woman lost consciousness. When she woke up at 5.30 am, she crawled to the nearby police headquarters where other officers took her to hospital, the paper said.
The man is a police officer working at Gatimbi administration police post and the Meru County administration police commander is investigating the case, it added.
Aura said the case highlights the need for Kenya to pass the 2013 Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill.
Currently perpetrators of domestic violence are usually charged with assault or battery under the penal code.
The domestic violence bill would provide for protection of victims of domestic violence by denying perpetrators access to the home. Friends of the abused person could also make the application for protection orders on their behalf.
It would also provide for safe houses, counselling and rehabilitation of domestic violence victims.
The bill has been pending since 2002 but faced opposition because earlier drafts criminalised marital rape.
"We can cross their fingers and hope they will change their minds and do something because violence is on the increase and we need to get some deterrent," Aura said. "Something that affects the family, the society, should be given prominence."
Victims of gender-based violence in Kenya rely on pro bono representation by organisations like FIDA because the government only provides legal aid to people charged with capital offences.