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Women displaced by post-election violence in 2008, carry belongings towards Eldoret, Western Kenya. (REUTERS/Georgina Cranston)

Delayed justice

Kenyan women gang-raped in post-election rash of sexual violence seek reparations

By WITW Staff on February 16, 2016

Imagine an election resulted in an unexpected or disputed outcome  — and those disputing the result were so incensed that they resorted to sexual violence to show their displeasure, and took out their anger on innocent women and girls. It may seem unfathomable, but that very scenario rocked Kenya just eight years ago. A new report from Human Rights Watch brings into clearer focus the depth of the atrocities that occurred in the post-election rash of sexual violence that swept the nation. The report, titled “I Just Sit and Wait to Die.” Reparations for Survivors of Kenya’s 2007-2008 Post-Election Sexual Violence, lists an onslaught of horrors that women and girls — and also some men and boys — experienced following the election. Women reported having been gang-raped, often by mobs of 10 or more men. They were penetrated with guns, sticks, bottles, and numerous other objects. Many reported being violently raped while family members, including children, looked on in horror. Some men and boys were raped, and others were forcibly circumcised or castrated, according to the report, which was released on Monday. Many women reported becoming pregnant as a result of the rapes, others said they contracted HIV. Those who became pregnant were unable to undergo abortions — the procedure is illegal in Kenya. The report delves deeply into the personal stories of several women, detailing the brutalities they were subjected to.

One woman, identified in the report as Apiyo P., a 53-year-old mother of five, said she was gang-raped by a group of four men. The men savagely beat her before the sexual attack. Apiyo discussed with Human Rights Watch the dramatic physical changes her body underwent in the wake of the attack. It is her despondent quote from which the report takes its name. “I am not at peace, my body is not the same. If I am pressed, urine just comes out. I feel weak. Sometimes I have a dirty-smelly discharge coming from my vagina,” she said. “I feel pain in my lower abdomen. I have serious back ache…. I don’t have money to go to a big hospital. I have so much shame. I feel hopeless. I just sit and wait to die.”

The report goes on to highlight that nearly a decade later, the Kenyan government has been neglectful in not paying reparations to the survivors of the brutal sexual attacks. But, the report states, “Renewed momentum around developing a reparations process offers the Kenyan government an opportunity to rectify these failures and ensure justice and redress for post-election sexual violence.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.