This article will help the following categories of people:
1. People who have been victims of rape and sexual abuse.
2. Witnesses of sexual abuse or rape who are wondering what to do after witnessing a case of rape.
3. Parents and/or guardians of rape and sexual abuse survivors.
Facts about rape and sexual assault in Kenya
Rape cases are very rampant in the country. Most of these cases are perpetrated by close relatives and neighbours. According to statistics, 94 per cent of rape cases are perpetrated by people who are known to the victim.
A third of rape victims in Kenya are minors. Approximately 18 per cent of boys and 32 per cent of girls experience sexual violence before they attain the age of 18.
Both men and women experience sexual violence. While women are the most vulnerable group, men find it hard to report due to the stigma caused by this violation.
Who are the perpetrators of rape?
Cases of domestic workers assaulting children have been on the increase in the country. Caregivers such as parents, relatives and teachers have also been perpetrators of sexual violence against minors.
On the other hand, adults have mainly been raped by their spouses, neighbours, superiors at the workplace, doctors, and strangers police and law keepers especially during robberies and emergencies.
However, majority of the survivors do not report rape because of lack of confidence in the police force. In cases where the protectors are the perpetrators, it becomes very hard for victims to report rape and sexual violence due to fear of victimization.
What should I do after rape?
The first 72 hours after rape are very critical. Doctors use this window to stop implantation, the spread of HIV, treat life-threatening injuries as well as other health complications caused by the violence. This time is also the best to collect forensic evidence that can help with the administration of justice.
Follow these steps immediately to manage rape
- Preserve any evidence from the ordeal. This evidence includes body fluids such as sweat, saliva and sperm, as well as items such as innerwear, grass, mattress, and any other form of clothing. It is important for you to avoid showering as this will wash away the evidence. Do not tamper with your clothes or any injuries suffered.
- Go to the nearest hospital for emergency care. As a victim of rape, you may be bleeding or exposed to health risks such as STIs and HIV. Seeing a doctor within 72 hours of rape gives them a chance to administer PEP and also P2 to prevent pregnancy in cases where the survivor is female. Doctors will also treat any injuries and other complications that could have been caused by the rape.
- Present forensic evidence to the doctors. While at the hospital, the doctors will ask for consent to examine you and preserve all forensic evidence in the right manner. They will then fill a form that you will take to the police alongside the forensic evidence for further assistance.
- Report to the police. Once you are out of danger, you can proceed to the police station to record a statement and also obtain an OB number to facilitate the administration of justice. Give them the form obtained from the hospital or the forensic evidence you have from the site of rape in case this is your first stop.
- Safety. If the home is not safe for the victim of rape, you will need to go to a safe shelter. In case the rape survivors are minors, the government will help place them in a shelter as they pursue justice. For married people who have been assaulted by their partner, separation is key as well as following the most appropriate channel to deliver justice.
- Counselling. Hospitals such as Kenyatta National Hospital offer counselling services to rape victims in order to help them recover from the trauma. Every rape survivor needs to go through this post-trauma counselling. Child helpline 116 offers free counselling services to children who have been abused in any way, and so this could be an ideal option for minors who are survivors of sexual violence.
- Administration of justice. Once the rape survivor has been treated and gone through counselling, they can start pursuing justice at the courts. There are various organisations that can represent them in court pro bono, such as FIDA Kenya who have dedicated their resources to help children and women who cannot afford to hire lawyers.
Have you raped or do you know someone who has experienced sexual violence? It is very important to see a doctor immediately, report the case to the police even if you do not wish to pursue justice, and also seek counselling in order to recover from the trauma.