Today is the Human Rights Day, and it coincides with the end of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. This is the last part of our series.
Four-year-old Anne (not her real name) was defiled by her father several times before she was rescued from the cruel hands of the very person she looks up to for protection, love and care. One time when Anne had been defiled by her father and was left in a terrible condition, four boys aged between eight to 12 reported Anne’s situation to the area chief in Dandora. We are yet to unravel the mindset of a man who sexually abuses his own daughter.
I can only think of a cat that eats some of her kittens after birth. It is an abnormality which borders between being a paedophile and what I believe is a reversed Oedipus complex. Perhaps an incomplete development of their psychosexual identity. Oedipal or otherwise, defilement is a human rights violation. A well-wisher rushed Anne to a clinic in Mathare for treatment, then proceeded to report the matter to Dandora Kinyago police station. The well-wisher followed up to ensure that the P3 form was filled and all the original documentary evidence including medical reports were submitted to the police station so that the file and investigations could be opened.
The well-wisher lived with Anne as she was going through treatment and as investigations were carried out. Anne’s father was arrested and the date for arraignment in court set. It was a sigh of relief for the chief, well-wishers, the children’s officer in Dandora and Anne’s friends when this happened as it was clear that the wheels of justice would soon be in full gear. You can imagine the shock they all had when things suddenly took a twist that made a mockery of the justice system.
On December 12, 2012, the accused, accompanied by police officers and some men who claimed to be from the Criminal Investigation Department paid her and the chief a visit. They threatened the chief asking her to stop supporting Anne’s case and to ensure that she was returned to the custody of her father. In addition to this intimidation, the well-wisher and the chief were told that the original P3 form and key witness statements had gone missing.
Of greater alarm was the charge sheet filled by the investigating officer had miraculously changed to read that the accused was charged of “subjecting the child to cruel punishment under section 18(1) as read with section 20 of the Children’s Act,” thereby dismissing the fact that she had been sexually abused. This was despite the clarity on the P3 form and the medical report in describing the injuries occasioned by the sexual violence. It was clear on the P3 form that the situation had been described as “defilement” and “ruptured hymen”.
Under the children’s Act the offence of subjecting a child to cruel treatment attracts a sentence of 12 months or Sh50, 000 fine and it is bad enough that it is lenient. Defilement or incest against a minor below 11 years on the other hand carries a punishment of life imprisonment. It does not take a genius to see that Anne’s father was working in cahoots with some police officers to escape the arms of the law. When COVAW contacted the investigating officer about the need to rectify the charge sheet he did not bat an eyelid as he indicated that that was indeed the correct charge as per his investigations. He even indicated not remembering the name of the accused.
There are concerns that have been raised several times in regards to how the police treat such violations as lesser crimes. Poor investigations and accepting bribes to compromise on evidence and tamper with witnesses weakens the cases thereby aiding the perpetrator by ensuring that the prosecution is defeated and the perpetrator walks free.
When the matter came up in court early this year, COVAW’s intervention was that the charge sheet needed to change and proper investigations done while little Anne was protected in a safe place. The court granted these orders. Anne’s family was in court to make a request for withdrawal of the case so that they can settle it at home. It is absurd and baffling that members of a family are willing to have their daughters sexually abused and protect the family member who is a rapist.