Lock of hair is straitened and stashed inside the veil. Tears are hastily wiped away, with shrug of shoulders and then comes the strange counsel.
“No matter what you do this holiday, do not let your children out of your sight. Again tears drop, as the shaky voice continues. “Do not trust your sisters, your brothers or your mother. Please stay with your children!”
This philosophy, at face value is as misplaced as the inscriptions on the back of the pink T-shirt, draped around the sunken shoulders of the 50-year-old grandmother.
Halima Mohamed, vividly recalls her excitement when she was first taken to her sister’s place. Her mother was traveling from Mtwapa in Mombasa to Kuria in Nyanza.
“I was only three years. When my mother travelled, I was left under the care of my sister’s eldest son. My sister, too had traveled upcountry. My minder violated me sexually,” recalls Halima.
At first, she could not understand what had happened but when her mother suggested that she was to be left at her eldest sister’s place again, she violently resisted. It is only after her mother questioned her behaviour that the girl, who was now a bit older opened up about the defilement.
She says even after refusing to go to her sister’s place she was violated by her brother and later an uncle although on separate occasions.
And now Halima, who has all her adult life worked as a commercial sex worker says: “First it was my sister’s son, then my own brother and later my uncle. Please parents do not trust anybody even your own brother. Do not leave your girls too long without knowing what is happening to them.”
And as she regains her composure and remakes her face, she struts out of the clinic and vanishes into the bowels of Kisumu Dogo informal settlement in Kilifi but her parting words echo, long after the flagrance of her perfume fades away: “Rape is not a crime committed by strangers. It is carried out by close family members, a victim has no reason to distrust. It is a betrayal rarely spoken out of family circles.”
Halima’s horrific violation pales to the betrayal experienced by a 12-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by her biological father who impregnated her and they tried to procure an abortion.
For as long as she lives, Saida Mwinyi, the nursing counselor in charge of the Coast General Hospital’s department, which deals with gender violence, swears she will never forget this harrowing encounter.
Her face is contorted in pain as she recounts how the father secretly sneaked the girl into a private clinic in Mombasa town after the botched abortion.
“When the clinician examined the girl, she realised there had been attempt to procure an abortion. In the pretext of further examination, he sent the father out of the examination room and grilled the girl who confessed how she had been defiled.”
The medic then called the mother to the clinic and was informed of her daughter’s predicament. She was advised to keep mum as the couple took their daughter to the recovery centre.
Secretly called police
At the casualty of the referral hospital, the mother was heard muttering by one of the nurses that she was going to kill somebody and was referred for counselling to Saida.
The troubled mother poured out her sorrows to the counselor who secretly called the police to arrest the man while the girl was admitted for treatment and further counselling.
When news of the arrest broke, scandalised family members disowned mother and daughter, accusing them of maliciously plotting to put the man behind bars. The case has not been finalised but mother and daughter were forced to relocate to Taita.
In another hair-raising experience, a young mother disregarded the parents’ advice and left her four-year-old daughter in custody of her spouse when she relocated to Saudia for work.
Back home, the father and daughter and moved from Mombasa town to Kiganjo in Nyeri. After brutalising the child for months, the man left her in the care of in-laws and returned to the Coast.
“When we examined the girl, her private parts were badly damaged. She had been sodomoised too. The father was traced to Kiganjo, arrested and charged. He is now serving life sentence at Shimo La Tewa,” Saida says.
Rushed home crying
A week ago, a primary school teacher defiled a six-year-old girl in school and tried to cover up the crime with the assistance of the school.
According to investigators, the teacher washed the girl and wiped the blood from a desk and coached her to lie that her private parts were injured by a nail, protruding from the desk.
The 30-year-old teacher has since been arrested and charged with defilement.
Topista Juma too has had her share of horror in her defence of sexually brutalised children.
According to Juma, who works with Muslim for Human Rights, the most horrific attack was executed by Bomu Assistant location chief, Mohamed Nyando who sexually assaulted a boy who had been taken to his office for stealing a phone.
In the course of his investigations, the administrator ordered the boy to kneel down for hours in his office and then ordered him to perform oral sex if he wanted to be pardoned.
The traumatised boy rushed home crying after the ordeal. At first, Topista explains that there was an attempt to cover up the crime but the ODPP intervened and after DNA tests were conducted and the sub-chief’s body fluids matched those recovered on the boy’s uniform.
The matter was reported to the police and the perpetrator arrested, tried and ultimately jailed for ten years.
The boy’s family had to relocate from Changamwe and the victim has since dropped out of school.
The recovery centre also dealt with a blind girl defiled by her father and impregnated. After the offender was arrested, the girl was taken to a rescue centre even as she continues with her secondary education.
At the same time, a Mombasa pastor accused of defiling his daughter who is in Class Six turned the tables against his accusers and even mobilised faithful to come to his defence when he was arrested.
“The pastor would sedate the wife every night after supper and sneak into his daughter’s bedroom. The secret came out when a teacher confronted the mother demanding to know why they had been spoiling their child with money. When the girl was grilled she revealed that she got the money from him,” Juma says
At the time the teachers raised alarm the primary school girl had more than Sh1,000 which they found unusual as the learner was a day scholar and had no need for such amount of money.