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Sex predators on the rampage amid curfew

By Allan Mungai | April 18th 2020

Cases of sexual violence have soared since Kenya recorded the first case of coronavirus on March 12 and started enforcing measures such as the closure of schools to curb the spread of the virus.

Sexual offences have overtaken other crimes as the country restricts movement.

This has prompted the Ministry of Health to call for more protection of those vulnerable to sexual and gender violence.

“We remind everyone that the law has not been suspended and that it will catch up with those who mete violence on others during this period,” said Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi.

The ministry’s reaction follows reports by the Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC), the Director of Public Prosecution and the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ) on increase in sexual offences cases.

Data showing the cases the Director of Public Prosecutions has registered in court indicate the sexual offences are disproportionately high, suggesting a correlation between measures instituted to curb coronavirus and the spike in sexual abuse.

Sexual offences such as defilement and rape make up 41 per cent of the cases recorded in court since March 16. Out of the 265 cases registered for prosecution during the last two weeks, sexual offences were 95. There have been 37 robberies and 19 murders in the same period.

Majority of the sexual abuse cases were reported in Nairobi (13), Mombasa (11), and Uasin Gishu County (10).

Last month, the cases reported to the gender-based violence (GBV) hotline, 1195, were 115 compared to the 86 that were reported in February, representing an increase of 33.7 per cent.

Comparatively, 106 women and girls reported being either physically or sexually violated while nine men and boys reported the same. Nairobi reported the highest cases of GBV.

Closure of schools and the curfew has forced millions of children to stay indoors making them vulnerable to abuse.

Apart from Kisii which has had one case of defilement, Siaya had two and Nyamira three, while Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay counties each recorded six cases of sexual offences.

In North Rift, Trans Nzoia had three defilement cases. Central had one sexual abuse case prosecuted in Kirinyaga while Kakamega had five cases.

Embu had one sexual offence case and four murder cases.

Chief Justice David Maraga said the sexual offences constituted 35.8 per cent of the criminal matters reported during the period since orders to stay home were enforced.

“These are people who are supposed to take care of the young girls, but instead of taking care, they are preying on them,” he said.

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