(Nairobi) – Hundreds of women and girls raped during Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence struggle with devastating physical and psychological health conditions, poverty, and social exclusion, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Kenyan government has failed to provide basic assistance and redress for the rape survivors.
The 104-page report, “‘I Just Sit and Wait to Die’: Reparations for Survivors of Kenya’s 2007-2008 Post-Election Sexual Violence,” is based on interviews with 163 women and girls, nine male survivors, and witnesses of rape or other sexual violence in the post-election period. Human Rights Watch found that most of the survivors interviewed were still in dire need of medical attention, leaving them unable to work or pursue education, adding to their poverty and hunger. The government has recently promised reparations, which should be designed in consultation with survivors of sexual violence to ensure their full inclusion in all programs.
“We were shocked to find how many survivors are sick, living in poverty and stigmatized, ignored, and often rejected instead of helped by the government,” said Agnes Odhiambo, senior Africa women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Recent commitments by President Uhuru Kenyatta provide a critical opportunity to address the needs of survivors of Kenya’s post-election sexual violence.”
The violence that erupted after the disputed presidential election in 2007 included ethnic killings and reprisals by supporters of both ruling and opposition parties and excessive force by police in crackdowns on protesters. It left 1,133 people dead and displaced approximately 600,000 people. Officials say at least 900 cases of sexual violence occurred, but this is most likely an underestimate.
Many of those interviewed had been brutally raped during the violence, most in gang rapes that involved more than four attackers - more than 10 in a few cases. Women said they were penetrated with guns, sticks, bottles, and other objects. Many were raped in the presence of other family members, including young children. Some men and boys were also raped or forcibly circumcised or castrated. Attackers included members of Kenya’s security forces as well as civilians and militia groups.
“I was raped by five men - they were beating me, pulling my legs apart,” said Njeri N., who suffered traumatic fistula, an injury that often causes urine and feces leakage and still has a leg injury and back pain. “I got so hurt. I have a problem controlling urine. I am so ashamed.”