Rape Cases Double During Political Unrest in Kenya
Thursday, January 24, 2008 9:43 AM

Following the eruption of political unrest due to challenged presidential elections and the displacement of an estimated 250,000 Kenyans, the number of rape cases at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital has doubled. A nurse who specializes in sexual violence commented that women who have come to the hospital are reporting that there are many more victims in the slums who have not received treatment for security and stigma reasons.


Kenya has a system in place for referral and treatment in cases of sexual violence, but due to the unrest, many cases are going unreported. An international consultant on gender-based violence commented that the increase in sexual violence may be due in part to crimes of opportunism given the unrest. The rapes may also be targeted at particular groups of women and girls, common during war and ethnic violence. Investigations have begun to determine the impetus.


Meanwhile, government, hospitals, NGOs and UN programs have begun to set up satellite medical and counseling centers in affected areas, particularly the Rift Valley areas.


Kenyan legal experts have cautioned that gender issues remain central in seeking solutions to the current crisis. A cooperative effort is needed to address the health, counseling, legal, and other needs of survivors.


Compiled from:KENYA: Health Workers Grappling with Conflict-related Sexual Violence,” IRIN, 15 January 2008.