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Medics’ strike slows justice for abused victims

Health & Science - By Mactilda Mbenywe | January 25th 2021 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300
KMPDU Secretary General Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda in Nairobi on November 24, 2020. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The ongoing strike by medics has dealt a blow to victims of sexual violence seeking justice in Kisumu.

The police have raised concern about the lack of critical evidence for both rape and defilement cases due to delayed filling of P3 and Post Rape Care (PRC) forms.

Clinicians and doctors play a critical role in gathering evidence during treatment and medical care for victims of sexual assault.

Police reports indicate in December, 24 cases of defilement were recorded from Nyalenda, Obunga and Manyatta slums while this month, 11 cases have already been reported. In September and November last year, the cases stood at 50, with victims’ ages ranging from three to 17.

The Standard has established that the county has no safe houses except for 31 orphanages privately owned and currently not admitting victims of defilement who need rescue.

The construction of three safe houses for survivors of gender-based violence in the county that began four years ago, gobbling up Sh13 million, has stalled.

The project has remained a pipe dream despite rising cases reported at the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Centre (GBRC) domiciled at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Up to 145 cases of defilement were reported at GBRC in December and 120 this month, with the youngest being a six-year-old girl.

Nurse in charge at the centre, Pamela Olilo, said doctors and contracted clinicians, who are partner supported, have played a critical role in filling the forms and attending to victims.

“The numbers are high and we are doing all we can to ensure they receive the justice they deserve,” Olilo said, adding that the justice was slow in courts and cases take long to be closed.

An advocacy and policy lead official at Kisumu Medical and Education Trust, Patricia Nudi, reported the facility has documented 50 cases in the last three months. Most are incest related.

She complained that of the 50 cases, only one has received justice.

“We have a victim who has been to GBRC five times but fails to find a clinician to fill the medical report,” noted Nudi.

She revealed that the police take two to three days to fill P3 forms and many facilities lack PRC forms to record detailed medical reports for victims of defilement, a state that has jeopardised the evidence collection process.

A community health advocate, Caren Omanga, said she has dealt with 11 cases of which five are pending as their P3 forms have not been filled since there are no clinicians to urgently respond to the cases.

“Without medics to fill the forms and attend to victims, so much evidence has been lost,” Omanga said.

Kisumu Central OCPD Peter Kattam said many cases go unreported as victims’ families receive threats from abusers. He said there have been forced disappearance of victims and even perpetrators going at large, which has highly jeopardised justice for the victims.

Kisumu West OCPD Edward Kawangara said defilement cases have been on the rise since schools were closed in March 2020. He said in December and January, about 20 cases of defilement have been reported.

“Many cases go unreported as perpetrators are relatives to the children so the families hide victims and protect the abusers,” noted Kawangara.

He revealed some parents move their assaulted children to other places thereby tampering with evidence.

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