A 4 year old girl was playing outside her residential area in one of the slums in Nairobi, when a 28 year old man called
her supposedly to show her something on his phone and to take photos of her. He moved her closer to his home and while there, he inserted his fingers into her vagina. She was terrified and took off running and crying and later on that day, when her mother was bathing her, she told her what had happened.
The mother, furious, asked neighbors where the man lived and marched to his home to interrogate him. How dare he lay a finger on her daughter? Literally! Who does he think he is??
The person who was escorting her left her once she arrived at the man’s house. She knocked. He opened. And she started the 3rd degree. What is this he had done to her daughter?? He asked her to enter his house to discuss the issue further rather than do so out on the corridors. She declined. He insisted. She remained adamant that she would discuss it OUTSIDE his house and had no interest in entering. This man however, wouldn’t hear of it, and pulled her into the house, locking the door behind her.
Realizing she was in serious trouble, she opted to try and talk him out of whatever devious plans he had for her. She narrated that he demanded she undress him, kiss him, and perform all manner of sexual acts. She refused to comply, to which he responded by punching her on the forehead. She took off his shirt and his pants after which he threw her on to the bed, demanding kisses and ‘lovemaking’.
Her mind was racing with several thoughts. How could she agree to have sex with this man, a stranger? She had no idea about what illnesses he might have. She had 2 children to fend for. What if the father of her children found out about this yet he was providing food, fees, and clothes for the children. Despite all these thoughts, she decided it was better to die than go through with this. And it was then that the tigress within her awoke, and she fought like never before, grabbing ‘mwili yake ya chini’ (his manhood) as hard as she could, as if her life depended on it. And it did.
He fought back, biting her arms and back, strangling her so hard she couldn’t shout and as she told me this, her voice was hoarse. When the pain became unbearable though, he let her go and she managed to escape.
The next day she reported the incident to a Police Station followed by a visit to a facility that handles such issues. Relevant medication was administered, but not a single specimen was collected or even mentioned at the facility. Meanwhile, the man as she later learned, had relocated.
What is the point of this story? What should have been done differently?
1. Never ever pursue an alleged perpetrator!!
- Safety: Your safety and/ or that of the victim is threatened when you attempt to confront them.
Leave that to the Police.
- The alleged perpetrator can escape.
2. Children must never be left unsupervised AT ALL TIMES (and this may be difficult but it is crucial for their safety).
3. Teach your children that talking to strangers is a no go zone. Make it clear who strangers are. Better still, who are they allowed to talk to? What is acceptable and what isn’t? Be clear and concise.
4. In the event that you or a loved one becomes a victim of sexual assault, as hard as it may be, take charge of your case. Ask questions. Are there any specimens that should be collected? What are the specimens being collected for?
NB: This ideally is the responsibility of the relevant authorities but after working in this field I advise that we should not assume all personnel know exactly what they should be doing (sadly). Many victims have told me that they were never asked for their clothes or inner wear even when these are supposed to be collected. At the end of the day, the victim is the one who stands to lose. Until our systems work better, please educate yourselves on these matters.
5. For the clinicians, the minute one says they put up a fight and have bite marks, lots of viable evidence is just waiting to be gathered from the victim’s body. If in doubt, CALL FOR HELP!CONSULT! This is not a rehearsal. You only get ONE shot at getting this right.
I hope this short to-the-point article helps someone.
For training on this, feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.