As I was heading to court to give expert witness today, I received a phone call from one of my hairdressers. She was frantic!The conversation went something like this;
“Hi daktari. Now do you remember the time I sent my cousin to you last year?’
At this point I am thinking, hello to you too. I am fine thanks for asking. How have you been?
“ No. Sorry I can’t quite recall but what’s up?”
“ The lady who was beaten by her ex-husband till she was admitted in hospital for a few days?”
Again, this would be hard for me to recall because such a scenario is a daily affair in my world. I prompt her to go on.
“Ulimjazia P3 that time”.
So the story is, her cousin was beaten up by her estranged husband after years of separation. He had long since moved on and started another family, leaving her with their 2 children. He would stalk her, and had a habit of battering her. She was referred to me sometime in 2016 during which time I examined her and filled out the P3 form. As always, I referred her to organizations who offer free counseling and legal advice to victims of domestic violence. This knowledge led me to my next question.
“If all this was done, what happened after the P3 form was filled? What did the Police do?”
“I told her that she could not go through with the case. She was not to have the father of her children arrested. I figured he would change after knowing she had sought legal advice and filled out the P3 form. But now he has hit her again and I think he can even kill her because he is threatening her, saying he will kill her if she doesn’t move out of Nairobi”.
I was furious!!! The first thing that crossed my mind was “what was the point of sending her to me if you were going to negate everything I told her to do?? Why did you bother with all that? Do you know how much time and money individuals use to assist a victim such as this? Phone calls, referrals, counseling, legal aid, reporting, and documentation only for you to tell her not to go ahead and get the help she needs?? Do you know she can be killed??” Angry does not begin to explain what I felt.
So this is how it works.
- When one is assaulted, the victim should receive medical care and acquire a medical report from a medical facility. This will then be used to facilitate reporting and more importantly filling out of the P3 form. The P3 form acts as an exhibit, as evidence that a violent act occurred. The victim then reports at the nearest Police Station and ensures that an OB number (Occurrence Book number) is issued out and a statement is recorded.
- At the Police Station, the P3 form will be issued, and Part 1 of this form filled out by the Police Officers. Part 2 is then filled out by a Medical Practitioner/Police Surgeon. It is then returned to the Police Station where the report was made and the accused/perpetrator is arrested thereafter. (Please refer to a previous article “after assault” for a breakdown of the process of getting a P3 form filled).
Several things can happen after this. In summary,
- The victim drops charges and the perpetrator is released.
- The victim proceeds with the charges and the accused is detained and produced in court within 24 hours, released, or given a cash bail.
- The perpetrator/Accused can be produced in court, but as the court proceedings begin, the victim fails to appear in court, thus there is no complainant, bringing the case to dismissal.
- The perpetrator can be released from the station on bail, and fails to appear in court resulting in multiple adjournments until he is found.
- In court the perpetrator can take a plea, where he pleads guilty or not guilty. If not guilty, the court gives him cash bail or bond.
- Withdrawal of the case can take place at any point before the final judgment, resulting in the perpetrator/Accused being set free.
NB: It is the duty of the police to apprehend the suspect, NOT THE VICTIM!
(Corruption and lack of resources has played a big role in failure to apprehend suspects).
Now, I realize and acknowledge that it is very difficult to have your spouse or ex-spouse arrested and arraigned in court. It is very difficult for anyone to comprehend that the person they once loved so dearly, and in many instances still love, can cause such anguish and despair to his family.
In my experience as a forensic clinician, the most positive (reported) outcome has been a beating once in 3 to 5 years at best. I have not met any woman who reports that he has completely stopped hitting her and has miraculously metamorphosed into an amazing person to her and the children. The abuse goes from bad to worse. Once that line is crossed, it’s downhill from there henceforth.
Children inevitably bear the brunt of this kind of environments, eliciting short and long term negative effects as they get older through adolescence and adulthood. I advise mothers to think about their children when deciding to ‘stick around and see how it goes’.
[Coincidentally the number of male victims of intimate partner violence is increasing, I am not sure whether it’s because there is an increased number of violent women out there, or if it’s because male victims are more courageous and aware that they can take legal action, or both. The reason I am not really addressing males in this article is because they tend not to stick it out the way women do. When a man is disrespected and abused it is usually quite obvious to everyone that it is wrong and must not be condoned, this however, is not the case for women].
Let’s not encourage victims of domestic violence to ‘hang in there’. Far too many victims, and even abusers, have ended up on a table in City Mortuary following this decision. I am not in any way encouraging divorce, but separation is mandatory. The church plays a crucial role in encouraging victims to persevere because ‘God hates divorce’. This does not mean one should volunteer themselves to be battered, sometimes to death!
We must support out friends, siblings, neighbors, and even strangers, who are victimized in this way. Listen without judgement, help them report, get them counseling, get the children therapy, speak out, break the silence!
Remember, children are our future!
NB. This article was written after consultation with some prosecutors and Elvis Abenga, an advocate of the High Court, who deals with family issues and violence matters.
*These articles are based on Dr. Shako’s work related experiences and recommendations made are based on experience, science and research, hence reflecting her own opinions. They do not constitute any other form of professional advice such as Counselling. Readers are therefore encouraged to view each case on its own merits.