According to the sexual offences act of 2006 a perpetrator of defilement can get up to life imprisonment and there are a variety of penalties charged on those found guilty of any sort of gender based violence.
Are these laws practical to a common mwananchi?
The answer to whether these laws protect the survivor remains unclear when Suzy* (name altered) a 24 years old orphan adopts a suicidal mind after undergoing multiple cases of gender based violence.
Suzy had to drop out of class eight due to lack of school fees and left Kisumu for her grandmother’s place in Western Kenya. Until then she used to stay with different relatives.
While at her granny’s place she was defiled and got pregnant at a tender age of 16.A few months later she miscarried.
Later on the young girl got married as an escape from her problems and settled with her husband in Kisumu’s Obunga estate but her escape was not the refuge she had imagined.
After getting her first child, her husband changed. He started beating her up. She also became a victim of verbal abuse which subjected her to both emotional and mental torture.
As if that was not enough, she had to live with the worst kind of humiliation any woman would ever go through; having a husband who makes you sleep on a mat as he lies in your matrimonial bed with different concubines!
Concerned community health workers shared her case with KMET. She was followed up and after some consultation the husband agreed to enroll her for the hairdressing class at KMET SFC.
Suzy thought he would change but the assault and unfaithfulness continued. When she could not bear it anymore she stopped attending classes. She even became ill and her husband never took her to the hospital.
With all hope gone, she was now contemplating suicide.
Due to her absence from classes at Kmet’s SFC, her teacher organized a secret house visit only to find her in a very destitute state.
She was then taken to KMET’s youth friendly clinic for medical care and psychological counseling. We then contacted her elder brother living in Eldoret who accepted to take her in as she recovered.
To survivors like her, the sexual offences act and protection against domestic violence act may only exist in the books they are written.
Call us for free on 0800724500 or contactthese numbers for help: Child line Kenya-116 and Health Assistance Kenya-1195.
If you wish to contact JOOTRH Gender based Violence Centre Call 07141388868 or beep for medical attention.