Photographer / Graphic designer: Sarah
CW: Discussion of r*pe and sexual violence
Nearly half of ever-partnered women in Kenya “have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime; 25.5% in the last year.” In 2019, the Violence Against Children Survey found that of the 15.6% percent of women who experienced childhood sexual violence, around two-thirds experienced multiplie incidents. Sexual also increased after the 2017 elections where women were raped by policemen or men in uniforms. RAINN, Kenya
Under Section 3 of the 2006 Sexual Offences Act, a person commits the offence of rape if:
he or she intentionally and unlawfully commits an act which causes penetration with his or her genital organs;
the other person does not consent to the penetration; or
the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind. Kenya Laws
Say someone is assaulted, or experiencing harassment or abuse. We’re going to share some available options for seeking support. When someone is assaulted, their choice is taken away from them. When deciding what kind of police action or medical support to seek, the choice is in the survivor’s hands, every step of the way.
If someone’s life is in danger, call 999, 911, or 112 and ask for police or ambulance depending on the situation.
If someone has been sexually assaulted, it was not their fault. They may not remember what exactly happened, and that is normal.
__________________________________________________________________________________ Medical help:
If a victim is hurt with life-threatening injuries, ask for an ambulance by calling 999, 911, or 112. Even if they don’t have any apparent injuries, it is a good idea to go to the hospital and ask for a rape kit to be performed- this is a sexual assault examination performed to collect evidence after a rape. If they think they may be pregnant, they can also ask the medical professional for options. They can also test the survivor for any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The Gender Violence Recovery Center provides free medical response for survivors of sexual violence within a 72 hour window: 0709 667 000. Sexual assault cases must be reported within 72 hours to prevent pregnancies; to prevent infection of HIV/AIDS or STD’s; to avoid death of the victim; to ensure that evidence (such as the victim’s clothing) is preserved correctly (Gender Violence Recovery Center).
At the hospital, a doctor or clinical officer will examine the survivor’s whole body and take samples of their blood and urine. They will be given treatment (PEP) to help protect against HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy. If the survivor reported the sexual assault to the police before going to the hospital, they should have received a P3 form which will be completed and signed by the doctor or clinical officer. If they have not yet reported the assault to the police or do not have a P3 form, the doctor or clinical officer will record the medical information on a “PRC1” form (Post Rape Care form) and sign the form. There will be three copies of form PRC1, a white copy for the survivor, a yellow copy to be given to the police and a green copy that will be kept by the hospital. The survivor should also take a spare set of clothes with them to the hospital as the clinical officer may wish to collect the clothes worn during the incident as evidence (COVAW).
Mental health support:
Survivors may feel vulnerable, angry, confused, depressed, or another way after a sexual assault. There are mental health professionals who can help with the healing process, but more immediately, survivors may find comfort in your ‘Safe Buddies’. These can be trusted friends or family members. For mental health related support and services, follow the links to see which one is most suitable for you: Enable Me, Gender Based Violence Rescue Centres
Survivors have the choice to decide whether they want a police report filed and press charges against their assaulter(s). After calling the police at 999, 911, or 112, a police car, usually with 2 uniformed officers, will arrive and take the initial report. If the survivor wants to have charges laid, the police will then take them to have a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit administered. Once the SAE kit is administered, the police will take the survivor's official statement including any details of the incident or about their perpetrator that they can remember. The statement may be audibly recorded or written down in which case the survivor will sign the document to verify its credibility. The police will also provide the survivor with a P3 form–a free, medical form. If the survivor does not receive it, they should ask for one. If the survivor has not already visited the hospital with the P3 form, they will need to go so that it can be completed by a doctor or a clinical officer (COVAW, Wangu Kanja Foundation). The survivor may be contacted by the police again for further questioning. It is important to note that the victim in a criminal case is not the party pressing charges. The government of Kenya, represented by the Crown Attorney, presses the charges against a person accused of committing a crime. The victim’s role is to serve as a witness to the Crown. Criminal cases can also take several months to two years to be completed.
If someone is in an abusive relationship, there is help available. First of all, if anyone’s life is in immediate danger, call 999, 911, or 112. Additional hotlines include:
Gender-Based Violence hotline: Dial 1195
Childline Kenya responds to child crises including sexual violence: Dial 116
Wangu Kanja Foundation SMS: 21094
OHCHR (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Kenya): 2726300 9
The Gender Violence Recovery Center provides free medical response for survivors of sexual violence within a 72 hour window: 0709 667 000
There are many forms of abuse. Specifically, domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence, is a form of abuse used by the abuser to maintain power in a relationship through verbal, emotional, mental, sexual, reproductive, financial, or physical abuse and coercion.
The survivor can find a ‘Safe Buddy’ to help them, and check-in on them regularly- be it, friends or family. This person can help alert authorities if they don’t respond to a check-in text, call, or email within a reasonable amount of time. They can also come up with a code word if there are concerns of their abuser reading their messages.
If the survivor is looking for support services online, and is concerned their abuser will see them, they can use ‘incognito’ web browser features, which ensure that searches and web activity cannot be tracked on that device.
Survivors can also reach out to local women’s shelters.
If you’re worried about the safety of a loved one, how can you help?
If their life is in danger, call 999, 911, or 112.
Otherwise, you can share resources and information, like this article. Be kind, understanding, and above all else, non-judgemental. Victims are often unaware they’re in an abusive relationship, or they depend on their abuser for things like a home, an allowance, or they are being gaslighted. Gaslighting is when the abuser denies ever being abusive when confronted about their actions and behaviour, and is a form of mental and emotional abuse.
For the person you are trying to help, even though they may not immediately leave their relationship, you showing belief in their experience validates it, and may give them the strength and assurance needed to leave.
As an ally, you can also offer to go with them to the police, the hospital, to court, or be with them when they call a crisis line or shelter. When victims are isolated from their support networks, it, unfortunately, gives their abuser more power over them.
Believe them. Stand with them, no matter what they decide. Be an ally.
Sources for further reading: