Finally, there is hope for justice being served for Liz, the 16 year old girl from Busia County who was gang raped by six men last year, after the Director of Public Prosecutions changed the charge sheets during the second hearing of the case yesterday, to charge the culprits with gang rape.
Prior to yesterday’s development, the charge sheet of the one suspect who to date is the only one arrested among the six, had not been amended to reflect rape or other crimes of sexual violence under the Sexual Offenses Act following a hearing on 24 March 2014 and he was only facing charges for “causing grievous harm”. The prosecutor ordered for the “other suspects who are still at large be apprehended and brought to justice without further delay.”
GANG-RAPED AND DUMPED IN A LATRINE
The Standard Seven pupil was beaten and gang-raped on her way home from her grandfather’s funeral at Tingolo village in Busia County and dumped in a pit latrine on June 26 last year. She survived the ordeal but is now wheelchair bound with a broken spine and has the worst case of fistula as a result of the rape.
Liz was able to identify at least three of the rapists out of a line up but the culprits were only asked to cut grass at the police station and then they were set free. Justice indeed!
JUSTICE FOR LIZ CAMPAIGN
Following public outrage at the laxity and the uncouth manner in which the police handled the case, a campaign headed by the African Women’s Community Network (Femnet), the Coalition on Woman against Violence (Covaw) and Youth Deliver was spearheaded to bring Liz’s attackers to justice.
The campaign received international recognition and over 1.6 million people signed a petition demanding justice, with the office of the Director of Public Prosecution then ordering an investigation into the handling of the case.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN KENYA
Liz’s case occurred on the heels of a landmark judgment for victims of sexual violence passed by the Kenyan High Court in May 2013 in a class action suit, known as the 160 Girls Case, on behalf of girls whose cases of sexual violence had been mishandled by the police.
The Court held that “the neglect, omission, refusal and/or failure of the police to conduct prompt, effective, proper and professional investigations” into the many complaints of sexual violence violated the girls’ fundamental rights and freedoms, and ordered the Commissioner and Inspector General of Police to conduct “prompt, effective, proper and professional investigations.”
However, Liz’s case indicates Kenya’s continuing failure to adequately investigate and prosecute all sexual violence crimes and this could be one of the factors that can be attributed to the rampant cases of rape and defilement being witnessed in the country.