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“Baba alinifanya tabia mbaya”:Slum where incest pervades

Posted by Administrator on October 28, 2009

The young boy contorts his face as his guardian lifts and places him on a plastic seat. He grimaces again as she tries to help him sit comfortably.

Little John plays with his fingers while mumbling to himself. He wanders into a world of his own, unaware of the worry written all over his guardian’s face.

“I have been asked to return to Nairobi Women’s Hospital for more tests,” says Wangechi, John’s guardian. “The doctor’s report indicates that the boy was sodomised,” she adds.

Living in the expansive Korogocho slums, Nairobi, four-year-old John adds to the growing number of many children in the area who are becoming victims of sexual assault.

However, unlike in many cases where strangers violate children, the perpetrators are people they know and trust.

“Baba alinifanya tabia mbaya. Kila siku alikuwa akiniumiza. Bado nasikia uchungu. (My father sodomised me. He would defile me every day. I am still in pain),” says John.

According to Wangechi, a social worker, neighbours rescued John from his father about a month ago. Every evening, they would hear him crying but they thought his father was disciplining him.

However, a curious neighbour enquired from John only to learn he was being violated. They took him to a clinic in Kariobangi and later to Nairobi Women’s Hospital where doctors diagnosed he was infected with HIV.

With the help of the local provincial administration, neighbours arrested John’s father and took him to Kariobangi Police Post. John now lives with a Good Samaritan. The police are still pursuing the case.

Evil Friends

In the same village, 46-year-old Karen sadly narrates how she learnt the plight of her granddaughter, Jane. She had gone to visit her son when her daughter-in-law told her that Jane had problems controlling her bowels.

She advised the parents to take her to hospital but they were reluctant saying she would heal.

However, when Karen examined Jane, she discovered that the child had been violated. The three-year-old Jane says: “Baba Susan aliniwekea dudu hapa chini nikasikia uchungu,” (Susan’s father defiled me. It was very painful).”

The child recalls that she had strolled into Baba Susan’s house while playing only for him to defile her.

Baba Susan is a neighbour and a family friend. “I could not believe it when the child informed me that the man had abused her,” her grandmother says. “I told her parents but they were hesitant to confront the man,” Karen adds.

Ironically, Karen learned that Jane’s parents were negotiating a settlement with their daughter’s tormentor. It is then that she sought police intervention.

Doctor’s report from Nairobi Women’s Hospital confirms that Jane was sexually assaulted though her case was presented very late. She was treated for a bacterial infection.

For Jane, however, her short life has been turbulent. Karen says that this is the third time her grandchild is being defiled.

Culprits Married

“That neighbour defiled her the first time but her parents did not take any action since he occasionally helps them. The second time, she was wandering in the slums when street boys defiled her,” she sadly recalls.

A few shanties from where Wangechi lives, tears flow from Monica’s eyes as she narrates about her daughter’s fate.

Twelve-year-old Margaret had gone to pick her younger sister at her grandparent’s house when the grandfather defiled her.

“That night, grandmother asked me to lock the dog’s kennel but while I was doing it, grandfather blocked my mouth and shoved me into an adjacent room. He defiled me,” says Margaret.

Thereafter he gave her Sh50 and told her never to reveal it to anyone. The next day, the man fled when he realised Monica had reported the incident to the police.

To date, he has not been arrested. Monica believes that he is hiding at his rural home in Nyeri. “Grandmother knows where he lives but she has declined to inform us,” she says.

Mr Meshack Orondo, a volunteer children’s officer in the slum says cases of incest and rape are rife.

“Most of the affected children are between ages two and 14. I get about four cases in a fortnight. Unfortunately, victims report late, sometimes after a week or two,” he says.

Sadly, in all the instances, Orondo notes that the perpetrators are married people or adults who also have children. “I am yet to receive a case in which a young person is accused of rape,” says Orondo. He attributes the rise of incest cases to the composition of families. “Most of them are extended families in very tiny rooms thus chances of children being violated by relatives is very high,” he notes.

Regrettably, family members conspire to cover-up. “Some destroy evidence fearing that the incident would bring shame to the family,” says Orondo.

He cites the case of Margaret where the grandmother has concealed her husband’s whereabouts to protect him.

Mrs Rebecca Balongo, Korogocho’s Chief concurs with Orondo.

Fuelling Crime

“Most of the reports I receive involve children between ages three and eight,” she says. “Majority come late but we try our best to take them to hospital and apprehend the culprits.”

Balongo cites poverty and parental negligence as the reasons behind the increase in rape.

“Some parents are careless. They leave children unattended the whole day exposing them to evil people,” she says.

Others choose to settle the cases at home. “The rate of dependency in the slum is very high that families solve some of the cases among themselves. They believe the court process is lengthy and expensive. This fuels crime since the perpetrators target other children.”

Kasarani OCPD, Mr Joseph Wambua says cases of incest and rape targeting children in the slum may be on the rise but majority of victims do not report to police.

“Those who report do it when they have erased the evidence,” he says. “It is hard to fight the crime when families conspire to conceal it because of shame,” he adds.

Wambua says Margaret’s case has not reached his office but he promises to pursue it to ensure she gets justice.

NB: Names have been changed to protect the identity of victims.

Source: East African Standard

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