Elusive Justice for Defiled Four-Year-Old from Nairobi
Despite her tender age, Precious (name withheld) 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 a mention of her grandmother’s home. To spice up the visit, her uncle (brother to Precious’ mother) was always present to give her company and also play with her.
On June 12th – 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 the little girl to have sex with her. When the girl started screaming and crying, her grandmother went to the room only for Tommy to lie that Precious 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 me 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 explained. “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 part.” 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 quarreled my brother Tommy.”
Precious’ mother after examining her daughter’s genitalia realised that the girl was in pain and signs of an infection could be seen with bear 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 her for reporting her brother to police over the defilement of her daughter. “My family cursed me. They hated me, they insulted me and they 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 this is wrong, he will never stop doing it even to other girls,” Precious mother explained.
Soon after Tommy was arrested, his father and mother immediately bribed the children’s police officer. 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 accepted the bribe and was convincing my friend and I to apologise to the family. “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, is it the father who was defiled, why should you apologise to the father? The four-year-old is the victim. My friend has done the right thing to take action, to report a crime and to get justice for her daughter,” I told off the police officer.
We used all the contacts and connections we had. 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 four months since the ordeal, the girl is scared of males. She clings on her mother and screams on hearing a voice of a man speaking 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 who has sworn that no one will touch him.
Meanwhile, Precious and her mother are living in fear praying that the 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 wants 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.
Judie Kaberia is a fellow of the Resilience Fund of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime.
The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.