Shock of Kibwezi school where girls are sexually abused for fees

When a group of students were arrested while drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual activities in a school bus. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

The Ministry of Education, in 2021, enforced a country-wide mop-up to ensure all the children who had sat their KCPE exams joined secondary school in line with the government’s 100 per cent transition policy.

The mop-up entailed a search from house to house for the children who had gone missing after sitting their exams a year earlier. 

In some public schools in Kibwezi East, Makueni County, many students from poor families who could not afford boarding school fees would be enrolled in day schools.

But the long distance they had to trek to get to school was another challenge many of them faced, especially the female learners.

Investigations by The Standard have revealed some of the female students in one of the schools in Kibwezi East were subjected to sexual abuse by persons who had fronted themselves as sponsors of their education.

It emerged that what started as a good gesture to take care of the financial needs of the struggling girls, covering their shopping and school fees costs, snowballed into demands of sexual favours in return.

A 3D concept of sexual violence. [Getty Images]

The situation was so pronounced that students and parents staged demos to protest the turn of events as they sought to protect the learners from sexual exploitation.

But three weeks ago, fresh details of the abuse of some of the students emerged after a Form Four student suffered complications after procuring an abortion.

Jane, not her real name, narrowly escaped death after the person who sponsored her education and in turn slept with her, encouraged the girl to procure an abortion.

When she joined Form One, Jane could walk for about 20 kilometres daily to school and back home.

When she got to Form Two, the school administration introduced her to a man who would accommodate her at his home to save the girl from the long distance she had been walking to and from school. The man also offered to take care of the girl’s other school expenses.

While the gesture was noble, the man later abused the girl, it emerged.

“Initially, he was a good man. However, after some months, he started telling me that if I needed more support for personal effects, I must change my mind towards him. He would order me to work on his farm and follow me there. He would touch me inappropriately on the farm. There are times he would follow me to the kitchen and harass me while I am cooking,” Jane said.

After rebuffing his sexual advances, the man reportedly went to school to report her, telling teachers that her behaviour was bad.  

“I refused to give in to his sexual demands during the first days. He became aggressive with me. He even locked the gate so that I could not access the compound while returning from school,” she said.

She told The Standard that the frustrations and threats of ejecting her from his home affected her academic performance.

“We lived under the same roof. In mid-last year, he stormed my room under the cover of darkness and defiled me. It was painful. He then made it a habit and kept threatening me,” the girl said.

She added: “Then I missed my periods. When I started having nausea and vomiting, he got worried. Three months later, he told me he couldn’t withstand the situation and planned an abortion.”

Jane said the man scheduled a pregnancy test at a private clinic at Makindu sub-county hospital. “The medic took me to another room on the opposite side of the road where I underwent an abortion.”

The girl developed complications. The 67-year-old man would go into hiding as she was taken to hospital.

An abused woman covers her face in defence. [Getty Images]

Later, the school offered to accommodate the girl.

“I was put in a makeshift ward in the dormitory where I was getting treated by a nurse from Kyaani Health Centre,” she revealed.  

The girl’s situation worsened and she was taken to Kibwezi sub-county hospital.

Dr Blastus Kakundi, the Kibwezi sub-county hospital medical superintendent said: “On January 31, we received a 15-year-old girl whom we confirmed had been sexually assaulted. We admitted her for evacuation and blood transfusion and later discharged her after becoming stable.”

Jane’s mother is now seeking justice for her daughter.

But the case of Jane exposed another story of an elderly man who is said to have defiled another student using the payment of her school fees as bait.

Joy said she is on sponsorship but the man who is supporting her had been asking for sexual favours.

“During mid-terms and holidays, he demands that I take results to his home. On several occasions, he attempted to defile me. At one point he carried me to his bed, but I fought him off,” Joy said.

She added: “He would tell me of how I had grown more beautiful and he needed to have sex with me to prepare me for parenthood.” 

And Joy’s parents seemed to have resigned to their daughter’s fate. “My parents said I have to persevere in the situation as they are unable to settle my school fees.” 

The third student, it emerged, even dropped out of school after the sponsor withdrew support. This is after she declined sexual overtures.

“The sponsor came in while I was in Form Two and promised to pay my fees. He however gave me conditions. He proposed that I marry him after helping me through the education system,” Joyce said.

Her mother told The Standard that the sponsor could request to travel with her daughter to Nairobi to discuss her performance.

“By the time my daughter dropped out of school, she had accrued arrears. I managed to pay only Sh5,000. I started hustling to clear the fee balance,” the mother said.

At Kibwezi Police Station, sub-county police boss Peter Maina said they are through with investigations and are now looking for the suspect.

“The case was booked on January 31, 2024, the same day the suspect went into hiding. His last phone signal showed he was at Mtito-Andei township,” said Maina.

Efforts to get a comment from the principal were futile as journalists were ejected from the school.

Kibwezi Sub-County Director of Education Joseph Kavisa said: “I do not handle cases that happen outside the school premises. The abortion was committed outside the institution. “For more details, get in touch with the Ministry of Education headquarters.” 

Teachers from the school revealed an existing web of men who lure girls into sex under the pretext of sponsorship.

“Only girls benefit from the said sponsorships. There is a bright Form Two boy who dropped out of school due to a lack of school fees. No sponsor has come to help him,” a teacher told The Standard

In last year’s KCSE exams, the said school had 120 candidates. At least 101 students scored D, six had E and one did not sit the tests. This saw candidates stage demos at the school.