By Judie Kaberia
Special WoN Writer
Despite her tender age, Precious (not her real name) has lived the life of an adult- who has not only been sexually abused- but denied justice.
It was on June 11, 2020 when the four-year-old was dropped at her grandmother’s house in Nairobi. There was nothing out of the ordinary.
Precious loved and enjoyed the endless pampering and cuddling from her doting grandmother. She felt safe, protected and loved – reasons she yearned for the very mention of her grandmother’s home.
To spice up the visit, her uncle (maternal) was always present for company and also play with her.
On June 12– the second day after she had arrived at her grandmother’s – her uncle, Tommy (not real name), whom she had been sharing a room with crept into her bed.
Tommy is also a minor – 12 years old.
However, under the Penal Code, he is liable since he has attained the age of criminal responsibility which is eight years and above.
He forced himself on the little girl and defiled her.
When the girl started screaming and crying, her grandmother went to the room only for Tommy to lie that Precious had had an awful dream.
The grandmother tucked her back into the blankets and went back to sleep.
On the following day, Precious’ mother felt uneasy and decided to go to her mum’s home to check on her daughter.
“Something just worried me and I had to go see my daughter. When I got at my mum’s house, she was reluctant. She didn’t want me to see Precious. She convinced me to return to my place,” she recalled.
“But before I left I knelt down to give Precious a goodbye kiss. But then she started crying.”
What she heard from her daughter was heart-wrenching. Her mother barely put herself together.
“Precious told me that Tommy put his willy willy in my private parts.”
On turning to her mother for an explanation, she got more agitated.
“My mother told me not to worry about it because she had washed Precious and told off my brother Tommy.”
Precious’ mother after examining her daughter’s genitalia, realized that the girl was in pain and signs of an infection could be seen with bare eyes. The area was reddish, swollen and covered in white discharge.
She rushed her to hospital and also reported the matter to the children’s department at Kasarani Police Station.
This was the beginning of a vicious family feud that blamed the little girl’s mother for reporting her brother to the police over the defilement of her daughter.
“My family cursed me. They hated me, they insulted and disowned me, but I had to do something about it. Not only to get justice for my daughter, but also to help my kid brother to understand what he did was wrong. If he doesn’t know that this is wrong, he will never stop doing it even to other girls,” Precious mother explained.
What made the police officer make a turn around is a matter of conjecture. Indications were clear there was a compromise by the mother and father of the suspect because as soon as Tommy was arrested, he was released.
It was at this point that Precious’ mother – my close friend approached me for help in getting her daughter justice.
It was shocking that the children’s officer could be compromised to even beg my friend and I to apologise to the family after such a grave matter.
“I have knelt down before your father and on your behalf, I begged him to forgive you on your behalf,” the police officer told Precious’ mother.
“Who is the victim here? Is it the father? Why should you apologize to the father? The four-year-old is the victim. She is the one who was defiled. My friend has done the right thing to take action- reporting a crime and to get justice for her daughter,” I told off the police officer.
We used all our contacts and connections. At this time, my friend’s father was sending a deluge of insults with swearing words and promises of killing her.
On the other hand, the trauma suffered by Precious was appalling.
Though it has been about six months since the ordeal, the girl is damn scared of males. She clings on her mother and screams on hearing a voice of a man even on television.
Despite the physical and emotional trauma suffered by the little angel, her file is still gathering dust at the Kasarani Police Station.
Justice is yet to be served. No date of hearing, no court summon and her defiler is happily enjoying freedom and protection of his family which has sworn that no one will touch him.
Meanwhile, Precious and her mother are living in fear praying that wheels of justice will soon roll to at least assure them of their safety especially after she lodged a complaint also against her father who has threated to kill them.
Unfortunately, Precious case is not unique.
According to Childline Kenya, cases of defilement of children aged between three and 16 drastically shot up following the closure of schools in March 2020.
“And more than 90 per cent (of the cases reported) are perpetrated by people who are well known to the children,’’ Childline Kenya stated.
Failure to arrest and punish perpetrators is the main factor identified by Kenyan civil society groups as a catalyst leading to an increase in defilement and abuse of children.
Just like Precious, thousands of other children defiled are crying for justice even as they grapple with the lifetime effects that stole their innocence and denied them their right to protection and justice.
Ms Judie Kaberia is Gender Media Trainer, Voice for Women and Girls’ Rights (VWGRs)- Journalists for Human Rights (JHR).