Nairobi, a city of 3million, has an average of 500,000 physical assaults a year. 150,000 of these cases are rape. You would imagine that in a capital city, overwhelmed by such rape statistics, that measures would be set in place to combat this issue. However, this is far from the case. In fact, if anything, the Nairobi system only works to manifest the problem further still and leave victims without any form of justice.
Nairobi police insist that only ONE doctor in the whole of Nairobi (referred to as Dr K, The Locust Effect) is allowed to examine rape victims. NO other qualified doctor or medical practitioner in the whole city is allowed to examine and produce a report on these victims attacks. If a victim does see another medical practitioner (there are many qualified medical practitioners capable of making this examination) the police will not accept it as evidence or pass onto the courts.
426 rape victims a day (that we know of) and only one doctor can assess these victims. It takes months for a victim to be examined due the backlog of victims waiting to be seen, by which time all physical signs of the attack and DNA evidence no longer remain. This leads to no report of rape ever being produced and no case against the perpetrator ever being made.
When the Nairobi police have been questioned as to why only Dr K can perform the examination their answer is merely, “this is the way it is done here”.
Laura is one of the girls living with the reality of this injustice. At the age of 9, after her mother died of AIDS, she was left living with her siblings and father in one of the many slums in Nairobi. Each night her father would put his hand over her mouth and rape her, in the tiny shack where her brother and sister lay trying to sleep. All their neighbours new what was happening, as they heard the nightly attacks, but did nothing to help Laura as the cultural attitude in these situations is not to interfere in what is considered family business.
Laura’s pain did not end there. One day when she went to the communal bathrooms to wash she was attacked by a man called Josef Irungu. He raped her and then paid her 50 cents. On another occasion, as she walked to school a man called Anthony Mutokia attacked and raped Laura but this time the price was higher-he left her with 75 cents.
Slum toilets and bathrooms are one of the most prevalent places to be raped because it’s a badly lit area. It’s not even possible to go to the loo in safety. Relieving oneself is without doubt a basic human right and something that everyone should be able to do without fear of violence or threat. Can you imagine the possibility that every time you had to urinate you might be raped? Schools are also a place of prevalent sexual attack in developing countries, by both teachers and students on the premises, as well as the risk incurred just walking to and from school. This is one of the highest reasons girls in developing countries are not receiving an education, even in countries where there are facilities for them to participate.
After the attack by Anthony Mutokia, Laura confided in her teacher Naomi who took Laura to the hospital where she was examined and a report documenting the attack was put together. As you can now imagine, the document was not accepted by police. By the time Laura was seen by Dr K he issued the same report he does for all rape victims-that there was no evidence an attack took place. Sadly Laura’s story is not a one off, it’s not unique, it’s not the first and it won’t be the last. But she is living proof of the need for a massive change in the way societies function and how they manage sexual violence.
You can find out more information about this story and the problems facing women in Nairobi by reading The Locust Effect by Gary Laugen. Gary Haugen is the founder of IJM. I know I refer to this book a lot but it’s just because of the wealth of information it has one the issue of violence effecting those living in poverty.