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CASES ON THE RISE

Activists want action on rape in Trans Mara

They say the law alone is not enough; political support against the vice needed

In Summary

• Father of three was hauled before Kilgoris law courts for incest with his underage daughter.

• Many cases are hushed by community elders who dread possibility of men and youths being condemned to long prison terms.

A previous demonstration against rape cases
A previous demonstration against rape cases
Image: FILE

Activists in Trans Mara, Narok county, have appealed for better action to stem spiraling cases of rape and defilement.

They say efforts to improve lives  girls in the vast county are in danger of failure owing to lack of political will to address the vice.

"Contrary to the picture painted in the public, the girl child still faces substantial risks that need more than legislation. We are doing well on legislation but the political will to speak up against these vices remains gravely weak," said Elizabeth Gakui, a gender activist with Trust Society of Human Rights.

On Monday, a father of three was hauled before Kilgoris law courts for incest with his underage daughter.

The incident sparked street protests with residents demanding speedy justice.

Kilgoris chief magistrate Robert Oanda  said Trans Mara East is the rape capital of Narok county.

"On our part, the fight against the vice is embedded in the law which we will continue to apply depending on the nature of cases brought to us," the magistrate said.

Activist Gakui however says despite efforts by the courts, the statistics have been rising in recent months, making a mockery of the  tough laws enacted by Parliament to combat the vice.

"We only manage to document a few cases which we are able to attend to and it is the same with security agencies and the courts as well, but there are large pockets of far flung regions that need to be scrutinised," Gakui said.

In some regions, villagers take oaths to hush up, preventing information reaching activists and police.

They do this for fear of subjecting their men and youths to the long and harsh court sentences, the activists say.

In December 2017, activists who had gone to Shankoe area to rescue some girls scheduled for female genital mutilation were locked up and beaten up by traditionalists.

 

Such attacks, says Gakui, highlight some of the dangers activists go through on a daily basis.

"Sometime, it gets to be sort of mouse and cat games with the suspects. You get alerts the suspect has been seen somewhere but by the time you arrive, you find some people have told them to escape," she said.

Gakui urged political leaders from the county to confront the harsh realities of rape and defilement.

"Some leaders still feel child marriages are part of the cultural fabric that evil minded people have come to destroy and this becomes a challenge too," said Gakui.

Mary Konchellah who works with Transmara Paralegal Project says some rape cases are swept under the carpet by elders.

She said unless village elders are sensitized on the dangers, they will frustrate efforts to eliminate the vice.

"We want the elders to come to terms with the current reasoning that we can no longer entertain the thought of child marriages any more. They should rise and join us to fight these vices,"Konchellah  told the Star.