Survivors unite, fearing a repeat of rape in upcoming Kenyan election by Joyce J. Wangui

In the violence that rocked Kenya following the disputed elections of 2007, the media reported hundreds of cases of sexualized violence. Jane’s was one of them.

Jane, who asked me to hide her real name, was gang-raped in 2008. Today, she grapples with HIV, trauma, and empty promises of reparation. Her husband was killed in the violence, she says, but his body has never been found. “I need to speak out but I am so afraid of stigma,” she said. “I am tired of hiding in the cocoon of confidentiality. It’s killing me.”

Kenya descended into chaos following the disputed election results of December 2007 in which the incumbent, President Mwai Kibaki, was declared the winner. The verdict was bitterly contested by supporters of his main challenger, opposition leader Raila Odinga. What followed was violence and chaos that led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people and the displacement of around 500,000. The Commission of Inquiry on Post-Election Violence, or the Waki Commission, documented at least 900 cases of sexualized violence against women, girls, men and boys during that time, including “heart-wrenching tales of rape, gang rape, sexual mutilation, loss of body parts, and hideous deaths.” Other reports from advocacy organizations estimated the number to be much, much higher.

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