Mother in pain after her four-month baby is defiled by an 11-year-old

Usually, when a baby is born they are met with kisses and hugs. Well, some don’t. While they are innocent, babies sometimes undergo some form of cruelty.

When floods wreaked havoc in many parts of the country, Nairobi wasn’t spared. Many residents were displaced, with the slums worst hit. Most people sought shelter in churches, schools and community halls.

In those halls, there was no segregation: Women, men and children were all in the same place.

 According to Ruth Mumbi, a human rights defender from Women Collective, there were cases of sexual assault. Rape cases, adults defiling minors, and adolescents engaging in sex among themselves, were some of the sex acts that went on under the cover of darkness.

Other cases of sexual assault happened when families sought shelter in friends' and relatives’ houses.

A case in point is that of a four-month-old baby girl who was defiled when her mother moved in with a friend.

We meet a four-month-old baby at The Standard Group headquarters on Mombasa Road, with her mother and two representatives from Sexual Gender Based Violence Survivors who had accompanied them.

Baby Blessing is a smiling bundle of joy who seems aware of her new environment.

Covered in a pink shawl and a white beanie hat, her little innocent eyes beam in joy not knowing the trauma she went through about two weeks ago: Being defiled that she needed reconstructive surgery.

“She used to cry because of pain but now I am happy she is back to her bubbly self,” said Baby Blessing's mother, Beatrice

Beatrice, lived in Nairobi’s Shauri Moyo before residents, who lived near rivers, were notified by the government to move to higher grounds.

 On May 23 she carried her baby and a few of her belongings and moved in with her friend. The friend has an 11-year-old son, Peter.

The following day she went back to pick the rest of her belongings, leaving Baby Blessing with Peter.

“When I came back, the baby was crying uncontrollably, I just thought she had missed me, but when I picked her up, that is when I noticed there was blood on her clothes. I asked Peter what had happened but he said he did not know” she says

She rushed the baby to a nearby mission hospital where they immediately called an ambulance and took her to Nairobi Women’s Hospital.

“The doctors said the damage was too much, she had to undergo surgery,” she says

On Sunday, June 2, upon being discharged, Beatrice went back to her friend’s place. Peter was there.

“He denied it from the first day, and his mother even insulted me saying that I wanted to destroy her son’s life. Neighbours advised me to report the incident to the police. That is what I did,” she says

Peter allegedly owned up to the crime later.

“He was taken to the police station when his mother found out, she disowned him and said, if he can do something like that then he is not his son,” she adds.

By the time of publication of this story, it was not clear if Peter was still in police custody or had been released.

Two weeks after the surgery, Beatrice says the pain is gone but once in a while Blessing has moments of shock.

She gets frightened and then cries, it happens once in a while but so far so good. She breastfeeds well, she sleeps and plays,” she says

Elizabeth Iluku, who works with the Gender Violence Recovery Centre, says when Blessing was taken to hospital, reconstructive surgery had to be done as soon as possible.

According to the medical report in The Standard’s possession, Blessing had a Grade 2 Perineal tear.

“She was discharged after a week. We offer psycho-social support to Mama Blessing, to give her peace of mind, because we know right now she has so many questions,” said Iluku.

She added that apart from defilement when Blessing was taken to the hospital she was unwell.

“She had bacterial infection and could not undergo surgery until that was treated, that is why she stayed in the hospital for one week,” she said

When someone is sexually assaulted, they are given medication to prevent HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other infections.

‘‘We had to give her post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV or STI’s. She also got the Hepatitis B vaccine,” said Iluku.

Baby Blessing’s next appointment will be early this week. During the visit, doctors will carry out more tests.

Another visit will be after a month to give her another Hepatitis B vaccine.

There will be two more HIV tests: After three months and after six months, followed by yet another Hepatitis B vaccine six months later.

“Right now Blessing is on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for 28 days,” she says

Some of the side effects of PEP include nausea, headache, diarrhoea, fatigue, insomnia and generally feeling unwell in adults. So one would wonder how a four-month-old baby would feel.

“She vomits every time she takes the medicine, but I try to make sure she takes it, for her own protection,” said Mama Blessing

Dr Saudah Farooqui, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Nairobi West Hospital, said when a child is defiled, reconstructive surgery is necessary.

“We check the damage and repair it,” she said

To properly assess the bleeding, experts recommend further tests including a CT scan.

On whether her reproductive health will be affected in the future, Dr Saudah said that it depends on the damage.

“If the damage was too much, then in the future she might have pain during sex. Sometimes the damage might be worsened by infections,” She said

Dr Saudah adds that the damage can also cause fistula or vaginismus.

A vaginal fistula is an unusual opening that connects the vagina to another organ, for example, the rectum, bladder, large and small intestine.

If the repair does not heal well, it may cause a fistula. Sometimes the damage can cause Vaginismus. And if it was sodomy it can also cause pain while passing stool. So it is very important to do a thorough examination and find proper, permanent solutions,” she says 

Vaginismus is an involuntary tensing of the vagina during any form of penetration.

Annita Munyiva, a counseling psychologist at Nairobi West Hospital, said in baby Blessings case, the mother needs proper psychological support. “The four-month-old baby will not remember what happened, but the mother has the information. The mother needs counseling because she might be blaming herself,” she says

On whether in future Blessing should be told about the unfortunate incident, Munyiva says timing should be considered.

“Later in life, she might be told by someone else what happened to her. It will be hard for the child to forgive the mother for not sharing the information.’’