In a society where rape victims have been socialised to blame themselves and are shamed to speak out, it can be hard to seek medical attention after being sexually assaulted.
It is against this background that a recovery centre and a desk for sexual gender violence survivors was established at the Coast General Hospital in 2007. Since its establishment, the International Centre For Reproductive Health (ICRH) Kenya, which is supported by a number of partners, has attended to 7,761 survivors of sexual violence.
The ICRH statistics paint a grim picture of the atrocities meted out on young children, mostly by relatives and guardians who are supposed to protect them.
“The most worrying thing is that three quarters of these victims are children. This means that in the last 12 years, 5,745 children have been brutalised,” explained the nursing counsellor in charge of the centre, Saida Mwinyi.
Interestingly, the average age of the sex pests is between 20 and 40 years although there had been instances where grandfathers had been implicated in defilement.
Since the beginning of the year, Mwinyi and her colleagues have dealt with estimated 400 patients who have been sexually violated, some are brought when they are already pregnant.
“I have worked in this facility for seven years and we refer all the cases to the police. There are instances when cases are settled at home. In some instances, spouses plead with the police not to prosecute the perpetrators because this will break up their families,” Saida added.
A study carried out by ICRH Kenya in 2012 found that out of the victims, only 47 per cent reported to the police while 15 per cent did nothing after being brutalised.
Out of the 213 respondents who had been sampled, only 34 per cent reported that their cases had been concluded.