[Svrilist] Kenyan Activists Push for change in Rape Laws
svrilist at mrc.ac.za
svrilist at mrc.ac.za
Fri May 19 10:14:56 SAST 2006
I could not agree more. Rather than feeling pity we should be expressing
Outrage at the violation of the rights of a young girl and the loss of
Outrage that the dominant patriarchal culture and power structures
throughout the world perpetuate the objectification of women.
Outrage that rather than condemning men's actions and adopting zero
tolerance policies, court after court ask women to explain what they did
to "provoke" him and set the perpetrator free to violate yet another
Outrage that women's rights continue to be violated in every corner of
Outrage that as Stephen Lewis so passionately expressed in his February
25, 2006 Speech to a conference on UN Reform and Human Rights that the
UN itself is guilty of "shameless patriarchal assault" on women and
girls through its gross under-funding to and devaluation of
international women's human rights machinery rather than taking
leadership and concerted actions to end this violence.
It's not good enough to "protect" women and girls. Programmes such as
the alternative fuel options and income-generation programmes being
promoted by the Women's Commission for refugee Women and Children in its
new report, Beyond Firewood: Fuel Alternatives and Protection Strategies
for Displaced Women and Girls, and programmes to otherwise increase
safety for women and girls in camps, and rural and urban settings are
But, women and girls will never be safe until men see them as persons
with inherent dignity and full human rights. As long as men view women
and girls as something to be owned, used and played with, girls and
women will never be safe. As long as local communities, national
governments and the international community give men license to act in
this way, women and girls will never be safe.
We should be outraged that we as women are required to live in fear, to
always be looking over our shoulders, to always be wondering, "Is this
the man who is going to assault me?"
We should be outraged that the international community's response is to
build "fences" around us, to "protect" us, to "keep us safe", but fail
to take concerted action to get rid of the predators who are constantly
lurking out there, and the social structures that breed them.
Unless they are stopped, predators will always be lurking around and we
will never be safe, we will never enjoy our human rights.
Every local community council, every national government and the
international community should be held accountable for every violation
of the rights of girls and women, for every predator who is not brought
to justice, for every system, policy, programme, service, action,
message that perpetuates the culture of male dominance and
objectification of women.
We should be joining Stephen Lewis in his call for a "separate women's
agency, with financing of at least a billion dollars a year (in order
even to approximate the wealth and clout of other UN agencies), and
several thousand staff".
Mary Anne Burke
Global Forum for Health Research
1-5 route des Morillons
PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
T + 41 22 791 3808
F + 41 22 791 4394
email: maryanne.burke at globalforumhealth.org
Forum 10, Cairo 29 October - 2 November 2006
From: svrilist at mrc.ac.za [mailto:svrilist at mrc.ac.za]
Sent: 18 May 2006 15:02
To: svrilist at mrc.ac.za
Subject: Re: [Svrilist] Kenyan Activists Push for change in Rape Laws
Getting out this news is incredibly important so that effective actions
be taken. In the case of an 11-year old girl being repeatedly raped and
becoming pregnant, I think that we need to go beyond seeing this as a
to seeing this as a crime and violation of her basic human rights.
pregnancy is defined as such and countries (in their legal frameworks),
health systems (in their services), and activists need to address this
head-on so that women and girls who are forcibly impregnated from rape
options, including the option to abort the pregnancy under safe,
and humane conditions. Work throughout Latin America has shown that
necessary and feasible but takes a concerted and collaborative effort on
part of many sectors of society (see pubs at
Deborah Billings, PhD
Senior Associate, R&E
Ipas/ Ipas Mexico www.ipas.org
----- Original Message -----
From: <svrilist at mrc.ac.za>
To: <svrilist at mrc.ac.za>
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2006 2:55 AM
Subject: Re: [Svrilist] Kenyan Activists Push for change in Rape Laws
> ...Thanks for the efforts made in highlighting the
> rampant rape cases in Kenya...
> We believe that with the joint world wide outcry
> against this social ill, something positive will be
> done to protect the innocent girls, boys, women and
> others who have undergone the same ordeal, that leaves
> the innocent with permanent trauma the rest of their
> A recent case is a girl, elleven years of age who was
> repeatedly raped in January 2006, and was reported to
> be four months pregnant! What a pitty!
> Thanks once again for the good reports!
> Ms. Perez Abeka,
> Chairperson/Gender activist,
> --- svrilist at mrc.ac.za wrote:
>> Kenyan Activists Push New Sex-Assault Law
>> By Ochieng' Ogodo
>> WeNews correspondent
>> Njoki NdunThree days later, some 200 kilometers away
>> in Sotik, Zephaniah
>> Kibet Koech was sentenced to seven years in prison
>> after pleading guilty to
>> raping a 13-year-old. Koech waylaid the girl on her
>> way to school, forcibly
>> removed her clothes and gagged her before raping
>> The two child-rape cases were part of a torrent of
>> publicity about a crime
>> that has been rising in Kenya. Despite survivors'
>> reluctance to make public
>> accusations, 1,987 women and children were reported
>> to be raped in 2001;
>> 2,005 in 2002; 2,308 in 2003. In 2005, the number of
>> cases rose to 2,908,
>> according to police statistics released last
>> September. The East Africa
>> nation has a population of about 30 million.
>> In response to growing concern over rape and incest,
>> one member of Kenya's
>> Parliament, Njoki Ndun'gu, introduced a bill last
>> summer that would have
>> handed down stiff penalties to convicted rapists and
>> revised a legal code
>> for addressing sexual crimes that had not
>> experienced significant
>> alterations since 1930.
>> "The current law relating to rape and other sexual
>> offenses is archaic and
>> we have to do something," Ndun'gu told Women's
>> eNews. "Would-be offenders
>> must know that if they commit the crime, they will
>> not escape with a fine or
>> a couple months in jail but will be behind bars for
>> the best part of their
>> But Ndun'gu's Sexual Offenses Bill hasn't won
>> passage yet. Last week the
>> Parliament went on recess without approving it. The
>> bill, which many
>> observers predict will ultimately be passed in an
>> amended form, has been
>> greeted with skepticism by some in the
>> male-dominated Parliament. In late
>> April, 12 of the body's 18 female members stormed
>> out of a debate in protest
>> after member Paddy Ahenda remarked that many Kenyan
>> women were too "shy" to
>> consent to sex by saying yes directly.
>> "If the bill is adopted the way it is, it will
>> prevent men from courting
>> women and this will be a serious impediment to the
>> young who would want to
>> marry," Ahenda said. "In our culture, when women say
>> no, they mean yes,
>> unless she's loose in morals."
>> 'Endemic' Abuse of Children
>> Last July, Care International issued a blistering
>> report about the abuse of
>> children in Kenya, calling it endemic. "Alarmingly,
>> the most common form of
>> abuse against children appears to be sexual abuse,"
>> the Nairobi-based
>> humanitarian aid group found.
>> The report drew a link between the prevalence of
>> sexual abuse in Kenya and
>> socio-economic status, noting that about 80 percent
>> of reported cases
>> occurred in low-income areas and slums. Families can
>> be found living in
>> single rooms with limited privacy. High unemployment
>> rates among youths are
>> also a factor, the report said.
>> But most sexual abuses that occur in wealthier
>> households often go
>> unreported, the report said. A similar report issued
>> by London-based Amnesty
>> International in March of 2002 called on the Kenyan
>> government to reform its
>> rape laws, noting that many victims face
>> "insurmountable obstacles" in
>> reporting their cases and encounter hostility from
>> family, the police and
>> community members.
>> Spurred by the prevalence of the crime, the severity
>> of physical and
>> psychological injury to victims and heightened media
>> attention, Ndun'gu and
>> anti-rape activists in 2005 proposed tougher
>> punishments for convicted
>> offenders of various types of sexual assault. The
>> original bill was
>> withdrawn after it was criticized for including
>> chemical castration as a
>> possible sentence for rapists, but a revised version
>> eliminating castration
>> was reintroduced.
>> The current bill presents 36 penalties for convicted
>> rapists, which range
>> from hard labor, prison sentences between one and 20
>> years and even life
>> terms. Under the bill, anyone convicted of
>> publishing or distributing child
>> pornography will face at least six years in prison
>> or a fine up to 500,000
>> Kenyan shillings, about $7,000.
>> The bill also introduces marital rape as a crime for
>> the first time.
>> Child Marriage Outlawed
>> Anyone convicted of marrying a minor--under
>> 18--would face a prison term of
>> at least 10 years. Girls as young as 10 years old
>> are commonly married among
>> some of the traditional pastoral communities of
>> Kenya, even though the age
>> of consent was raised to 18 in 1999 as a method to
>> combat the spread of
>> The law would also punish a man found guilty of
>> forced wife inheritance--a
>> traditional custom that says a widow must be
>> "inherited" by her husband's
>> brother or close relative--with a 10-year prison
>> "The Sexual Offenses Bill will address gaps in our
>> current law," said
>> Kathurima M'Inoti, chair of the Kenya Law Reform
>> Commission, adding that the
>> current penal code was developed from centuries-old
>> customs and ideas.
>> The bill was spearheaded by 40-year-old Ndun'gu.
>> Before her nomination to
>> Parliament in early 2003, Ndun'gu worked with
>> women's rights activists who
>> informed her that rape occurs in Kenya every 30
>> minutes. She also worked
>> with the Nairobi Women's Hospital, which since its
>> foundation 10 years ago
>> has treated rape victims.
>> The Kenya chapter of the Nairobi-based Federation of
>> Women Lawyers Kenya
>> found in a 1999 study that very few survivors of
>> gender-based violence will
>> report the crime and even fewer will pursue legal
>> Stigma Affects Victims
>> "Unfortunately due to gender discrimination, the low
>> status in society of
>> women and girls, and the terrible stigma that
>> affects the victims and their
>> families, little or no reporting of rape occurs and
>> it goes unpunished,"
>> says Ndun'gu.
>> A rape survivor, say activists, is often shunned by
>> family and former
>> friends as "unclean." In some communities they can
>> only be married as second
>> or third wives.
>> Authors of Care International's July study found
> === message truncated ===>
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>> Svrilist at mrc.ac.za
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