Violence had ranged in her part of Kibera for more than two weeks. One evening in January 2008, as her husband fled with one daughter in order to escape capture by police, a woman stood in her house with another young child. While one policeman stood guard, three others forced their way inside and accused her of sheltering Mungiki. While she denied their claims, the police officers searched her home and began to attack her. One of the officers slapped her daughter, who ran and hid. Two policemen then beat her, cut her clothes off with a knife, restrained and raped her. She fell unconscious during the second rape, and when she awoke, naked and in pain, she realized she couldn’t move. While she lay helpless, a large group of men and women looted her house. After they emptied her home, two men among the looters raped her again.
Her neighbours cared for her in the following days, as she lay immobilized and in great physical pain, and unable to eat without breaking down in tears. During a lull in the violence, these neighbours assisted her in getting to Mbgathi District Hospital, where an x-ray revealed a broken leg. At another hospital a few days later, she learned she had gonorrhoea and received treatment for a deep cut. Together with another rape survivor, she attempted to report the crimes in February 2008. The police officers laughed at them and refused to record information about crimes that would implicate the government. She subsequently gave a statement about the crimes to an NGO, and was told that the information would be shared with the Waki Commission. Her husband, after expressing his distaste for sexual relations with a woman who had been raped by so many men, left her and refuses to provide financial support. After losing all of her household goods, she struggles to support herself and her children. She has lost all sexual desire.
During the post-election violence, almost no security personnel patrolled her area of Kibera, and the few there were overwhelmed by the situation. Youths were stealing from houses and businesses. One youth group, called Bukungu, was particularly aggressive and targeted perceived PNU supporters in the woman’s neighbourhood. She knew many of the men in the group. One morning in late December 2007, she was in her house when her neighbour yelled to warn her of an imminent attack. She ran outside to secure the gate and rushed back inside and locked the door. From inside, she could hear the attackers jumping on the metal roof of her home, armed with rungu, metal bars, simis, hammers and pangas. She took shelter under her bed as they kicked the door in and entered her house and began to loot her possessions. They found her, dragged her out from under the bed, clubbed her hip, struck her head with a panga, and threatened to kill her. They pushed her to the floor, tore off her clothes and one of them raped her. She was in shock as he forced his way into her. When he finished, the second attacker raped her. Then, the third also raped her. She clearly remembers feeling three men raping her, one after the other, and hearing them say “It is my turn now, move over.” They seemed to only stop when another group said they were there to steal rather than rape. As her attackers left, they stole all her furniture, kitchenware, utensils, clothes and money. Afterward, she felt sharp pain in her vagina and could feel the cuts her attackers caused.
She filed a complaint with police in early January 2008, but she was told nothing would be done until after the PEV. In April 2008, she again tried to record a statement, but the police rebuffed her, saying that people were recording stolen items only. The police told her to find witnesses, but her neighbours refused to help because they feared for their safety. She knows the perpetrators by name. She has seen some of the gang members around since the rapes, and she knows that one of the rapists is a member of the local peace committee.
She now struggles to pay for her children’s school fees and sustain herself. Her children left her and husband moved away. She lost all of her assets. Her hip joint and leg hurt to this day and she receives monthly treatment for these injuries at her family’s expense. She wants the perpetrators brought to justice.
#3 How I lost my uterus, by gang-rape survivor
Stiff wire blindly grooves its way in like a drunkard in a dark alley, probing and tearing and puncturing. The pain is beyond anything the 35-year-old woman has ever felt during her three maternities but she hopes it will be over soon.
She sips weakly on the herbal potion her friend hands her to flush her uterus but this deeply hidden secret will soon become a public spectacle if she is to be saved. When she next wakes up, she is at the Busia District Hospital, on a drip, breathing from an oxygen mask and running low on blood.
Doctors tell her she is lucky to be alive. Her uterus has ruptured; she is bleeding profusely and at death’s door.
As the turbaned woman recuperates from the removal of her damaged uterus, she looks back wistfully, counting the cost of what has been lost. The Akorino sect, to which she belongs and wears a white turban as an identifier of the faith, does not condone abortion.
“It is an abomination!”
On this, Mkacharo and her church have had to part ways. She would rather this – she would rather she did not have a uterus to belong to her church than the alternative. She closes her eyes and drifts into a deep sleep.
Women’s bodies were turned in battle-fields in the post-2007 election violence. Six women have sued the government for failing to protect them against sexual violence and to pursue accountability for the crimes committed against them. Joyce J Wangui has been visiting and interviewing some of the women about their experiences, their struggles and how they are coping seven years later. Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the interviewees.
#4 My daughter got pregnant, I contracted HIV from gang rape
Stones rain down on the iron sheet roof of Gakii’s house as boys from the neighbourhood call her names and threaten to kill her chickens.
“I am like a curse in my village. They always tell me I am better off dead than alive because I am not adding any value to the community,” Gakii says drily.
Her 16-year-old son leaves school early to help with household chores like fetching water and firewood, and caring for his seven-year-old niece. These things just pile onto the ridicule with which his peers and neighbours treat him.
“I protect my mother because she is very vulnerable. Every minute, villagers are harassing her. Even with her disability, she is still my mother and I love her,” he says.
He shares the house with his mother, an oddity for a boy his age, but has big dreams about becoming an actor, a driver or a police officer. He is in secondary school and although educating him has been a huge challenge for her, accumulating huge debts, a sympathetic principal allows him to study. Although he scores good grades in class, he is not safe.
“People bay for my blood here. This has affected my education,” says the boy.
Gakii’s needs come last. She sleeps on the floor with her granddaughter and a cat while her son has the lone bed with its worn mattress.
#5 Survivor still haunted by fear her sons watched her being gangraped
Women’s bodies were turned in battle-fields in the post-2007 election violence. Six women have sued the government for failing to protect them against sexual violence and to pursue accountability for the crimes committed against them. Joyce J Wangui has been visiting and interviewing some of the women about their experiences, their struggles and how they are coping seven years later. Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the interviews.
Fence droppers whizz past the minibus window, dissolving into a blur as the vehicle turns the last corner to the Langas stage before picking more passengers for the return journey to Eldoret town.
#6 My Gang-rape Baby and I
Teen mother learns to love daughter conceived of violence and build a new life