As sexual offences, particularly those committed against children, continue to rise at alarming rates, the courts have started handing over very tough custodial sentences to those arrested and brought before them. Although it is hoped that these actions will help stem the menace, there is need to first break the current silence that still engulf sexual offences crimes so that many more cases are exposed and brought to court. Currently it is estimated that less than 10 percent of sexual offences are reported
The court cases used for illustration in this report were higlighted in various newspapers and television stations in Kenya. They have been summarised for publication here by HRH / Martin Oluoch.
Violence and crimes of sexual nature against women and children is on the increase and is causing alarm in Kenya. Statistics on sexual violence (rape) is as varied as their sources. Available Police statistics for the year 2005 showed that rape was the highest reported crime in Kenya. A 2003 report by Kenyan and foreign aid agencies said rape and other sexual violence had increased fourfold in the country´s 32 million population since 1999.
Data from Health Institutions
Kenyan police statistics, however, show a decline in reported rapes from 2 867 reported in 2005 from 2,908 in the previous year. But police statistics are generally unreliable since many rapes go unreported due to culture stigma and a tradition of blaming the victim. Hospitals and health facilities are another good source of data for sexual offences as many victims are now coming up to seek help. According to Dr Sam Thenya, head of Nairobi Women´s hospital, the only centre in the country to provide free treatment to rape victims. “We normally treat about 15 women a day with half being less then 16 years of age,” this translate to about 5,340 cases in a year.
Most violations not reported
According to Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), it is estimated that on the whole, “about 800,000 women are raped in Kenya every year. That translated to 66,000 rapes per month, 2,200 rapes every day and 92 rapes be hour”. Comparing these estimates with the reported cases by police, the media and women rights organisation indicates clearly that over 90 percent of sexual violation cases are never reported. This also means that the perpetrators are not punished and may continue to carry out the abuses. More significant however, is that the victims are not helped and continue to be live at the mercy of their attackers?
Incest on the rise
Some of the sexual crimes gaining prominence in Kenya include sexual harassment, rape, defilements, incest, sodomy etc. However what is making the crime more heinous is the growing trend in sexual crime involving children as young as six months old. Cases of incest in families are now also coming out in the lime light and it is becoming apparent that they are actually much higher than previously imagined. Local media regularly run stories of fathers violating small daughters, FIDA logo Kenya.jpgsometimes leaving them dead. According to FIDA Kenya “Child abuse unfortunately rarely comes out in the open, especially when it involves family members, rendering the victim even more helpless. They do not know how to, or lack the capacity to raise the matter and with whom and fear recrimination should they reveal anything. In many instances, a victim’s dependant relationship to the perpetrator makes it more unlikely that the abuse will be reported”.
The New Sexual Offences Act
There is currently much hope being put on the new Sexual Offences Act which recently received the presidents’ assent and is soon set to be law. The new law is intended to stem the countries “epidemic of rape” and other sexual offences although women´s rights groups expressed outrage saying protections for married women against marital rape were dropped. It is however hoped that since Kenya now has a law consolidating all the sexual offences, this will be a huge step towards the eradications of the epidemic of sexual related crimes in the country.
Sceptics of the law, however, point out that even the very good laws can only be effective if their exists an effective and efficient mechanisms that can detect, expose and report cases of sexual violation. The law can only deal with those cases brought before it they argue.
Courts getting Tough
Over the last three weeks, courts in various parts of the country have issued very stiff custodial and in some cases death sentences to those convicted of sexual offences. Below are a few selected cases of judgement issued by various courts in the last three days as was reported by the Kenya media.
A man has been sentenced by the high court to hang for defilement and murder. Mr Evans Wanyama Mbuthia was sentenced to death for sexually assaulting his niece and nephew and then strangling them to death on the 6th January 2005 in Murang’a district. The court was told that after sexually assaulting the school children, he murdered them and stashed their bodies in a gunny bag and threw them in a forest. Booking the murderer with a hangman, Lady Justice Hannah Okwengu ruled “No less justice can be accorded to the person who premeditated the murders of innocent minors and went a head to painfully execute them, than a condemnation to suffer death as prescribed under law”.
In another case, a court sentenced a peasant farmer James Munene aged 39, to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of repeatedly defiling his daughter aged 6, after chasing away his wife. The principal magistrate Mrs. Margaret Rintari Gitonga observed that the accused had also infected the girls with venereal diseases in the process. The offence took place in Nyeri district, between August 29 and September 7, 2005. According to the magistrate “It was evident during the trial that the girls had suffered trauma from the act. This court had to step her down after realising that even her evidence was a torture and a sad reminder of her parent’s beastly act”.
Attempt to defile
The same Court in Nyeri sentenced Charles Irungu Kirigu, a mechanic to 10 years in prison fro attempting to defile a 9 year old girl. The court was told that the girl was rescued from the accused by villagers when she was attacked on her way to school.
In Nairobi on 3rd October 2006, a senior principal magistrate Catherine Mwangi sentenced Mr. Matano Lumbao, a house boy to 20 years in prison for sodomising a 4 year old boy. The accused admitted that on the 24th September 2006 he had carnal knowledge of a minor against the law of nature.
Dead dogs – and dead cockatoo – in man’s freezer lead to animal cruelty charges
USA, APRIL 12, 2017 – Charlotte Observer
Investigators looking into reports of animal cruelty found two dead dogs and a dead white cockatoo in an Alexander County man’s freezer, according to a statement from the Alexander Sheriff’s Office.
Outside the home, officials found nine quail dead in cages and an African gray bird in a cage without food or water, it was reported.
The suspect, Matthew Trenton Leeth, 29, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, has been charged with 19 counts of Felony Cruelty to Animals and 19 counts of Misdemeanor Abandonment of an Animal, and given a $200,000 secured bond.
On Wednesday, April 5, the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office got a call to investigate the site on Bolick Lane in Bethlehem, which was being rented by Leeth for a canine training business, officials said.
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Animal Control officers found two malnourished dogs with no food or water in small cages in a camper and five malnourished and emaciated dogs inside the building with their ribs visible, it was reported.
Officials said Leeth arrived in Alexander County from Louisiana on Thursday and was charged.