Defilement is a traumatic experience and any child that has undergone it is never the same again. It debases the person in the child for life.
The child`s ability to socialize or initiate relationships is impaired by a low self-esteem that is manifested by sexual violence.
This has not been any different to three teenage girls from Kuresoi South in Nakuru County. Narrating their ordeal, makes tears roll down their cheeks uncertain about their future.
The teenagers are at pain telling their harrowing stories that provide a glimpse to the emotional trauma they now contend with day by day.
Perturbed residents of Kiptagich area in Kuresoi South, say sexual violence has become a regular occurrence. Increasingly worrying is the manner which perpetrators are met with justice.
They say most victim’s parents and guardians are opting for kangaroo courts, which too often, become lenient to perpetrators thus denying helpless victims justice.
Now that children will be home longer, owing to the covid-19 outbreak and consequently, the containment measures that included closing down of all institutions of learning, such local arrangements are anticipated to compound worries of the residents.
Even as they continue to look up to the police to ensure that culprits are duly charged, they can only anticipate an increase in such cases.
Fifteen-year-old, Nancy Koech (Not real name), a class 8 pupil, recalls what occurred to her early this year when she was left behind by her parents to take care of their homestead.
She recounts the events just like yesterday, saying that she was done with her house chores and was taking a rest outside their home. It was at this time that a neighbor, Robert Kosgey, came into their homestead in the late afternoon and requested her to show him the progress of a house her parents were constructing within the compound.
“The man is well known to me and so I innocently did as he instructed me to, not knowing what would befall me in a matter of minutes,’’ said Nancy.
She continued to narrate that she was shocked to the core when Kosgey, at the incomplete building, held her from the back and commanded her to undress then he defiled her.
“I shouted for help and tried to rescue myself from his arms but he overpowered me and unfortunately my younger brother who had brought back livestock home caught us in the act and informed my parents,’’ said Nancy.
Her mother, who upon learning this, conceived it as mischief and she beat her. She ran to their house store for safety where she spent the night, the family later on, had sleepless nights trying to locate her.
In the morning, she presented herself to her parents who could not believe her explanation and instead, they accused her of bringing men around while they were away.
“My parents, who believed that I had a relationship with him, later calmed down and warned me against such behavior. They even put in place stringent measures that would limit my interaction with him,’’ narrated Nancy.
This incident happened in January and seven months down the line, his father is said to have discovered strange behavior with her daughter and advised her mother to take her to a nearby clinic for tests only to be discovered that she is six months pregnant.
After reporting the case at Olenguruone Police Station, the parents resorted to relocating her to her granny’s place where she went on with school to allow them contemplate a way forward.
Kosgey who is said to be a son of a local Assistant Chief, did not stop at this, but had an earlier affair with Mary Cherotich (not real name), since when she was in class seven for five years.
Mary now aged 16 old and in form three, disclosed that her parents never knew of their affair and ironically was not aware that she was being defiled until April this year, when their relationship became an open secret.
“I have been intimate with Kosgey for the last five years but little did I know that he was taking advantage of me until when our affair came to the limelight,’’ innocently noted Cherotich.
According to her, on that fateful day, Kosgey contacted her and asked her to meet him in Bomet.
“I have made prior arrangements and my brother will pick you using his motorbike to bring you to Bomet,’’ said Kosgey on phone.
Cherotich said that they agreed that Kosgey’s brother would pick her at 3.30am and true to his word, he was there at the exact time, picked her and they left Kiptagich.
She reveals that on that day, her mother was away on a business trip and was only left with his father and her two male siblings.
Cherotich’s father thought that maybe her daughter was out for a short call but when she went out longer than usual her absence and the sound of a motorbike caused suspicion and anxiety.
Worried, he immediately contacted a friend who assisted him track the motorbike that night, but they did not manage .They reported the matter to the Chief after neighbors reported that Kosgey’s brother was the one who left with her daughter.
They counterchecked the information by going to Kosgey’s homestead where his mother informed them that Kosgey`s brother had left for Bomet to drop a customer.
Several phone calls were made to Kosgey, his brother and Cherotich to ensure that they bring her back but when the brothers realized that their mission had aborted, she was dropped at a church in Kericho and was later to go to her grandmother’s home in Bomet.
She did so and pastors assisted her with some transport to get back home.
Since then, Kosgey is still at large and two defilement cases against him have not taken off.
The residents claim that his mother is covering him up. Some have received threats and asked to desist from pursuing the cases.
Remorseful, Cherotich discloses that she is trying to win back her parents trust, but it has not been easy. She spends most of her time helping in house chores and keeping herself busy with school work.
In as much as she feels stressed over the matter, she is hopeful that one day things will change for the better.
15-year-old Irene Chebet (not her real name) is mentally challenged and epileptic. despite her condition, her family abandoned her after she fell into a fire, burnt and had her face disfigured.
Luckily, a good Samaritan picked her at Keringet trading center, after she found her roaming and was in pain as the burn wounds on her head and face had not completely healed.
Agnes Koech, took her in and has lived with Chebet for over five years now, but unfortunately on the 28thJune this year, a man identified as Boaz Cheruiyot, defiled her at around 3pm and took her overnight to his house.
He was discovered after a search and the matter was reported, leading to his arrest.
At the moment, Agnes is making effort to help the child stay in a charitable children institution, since she is unable to cater for her medical bills and the extra attention she requires due to her condition.
She is bitter that someone took advantage of Chebet’s condition and defiled her, saying that she will stand by her irrespective of all to ensure that she gets justice.
Keringet Sub-county Police Commander, Henry Nyaranga, noted that defilement cases in region have been rampant for a long period of time and an increase of the same will be seen during this corona virus pandemic period.
“All Police Stations within this Sub-county reports a defilement case on a daily basis,’’ he said.
He urged Chiefs in the area to educate locals residents on matters crime, assuring that the police will work closely with them, just as they have been actively involved in Baraza meetings where they inform the public over the same.
The Sub-county Police boss blamed parents for their permissiveness in raising girls, saying that they hardly teach them about their sexuality and esteem.
He said negligent parents will face the wrath of the law. Nyaranga also noted that some cases reach their desk months later after the incident had occurred as a result of failure in agreement at a kangaroo court, this hampers their effort in ending this vice.
Nyaranga lauded the effort by the courts, since they have ensured that defilement cases go on without interference from external forces.
Meanwhile, police have already launched a manhunt for Kosgey and investigations are underway. Police have urged the parents of the victim to be patient as the culprit will still be charged in a court of law when found.
He warned such chiefs against taking sides in defilement cases and any other issues that contravenes the law, saying that it acts as a setback to the strides made in ensuring justice is fairly served.
In an interview with the Molo Head of Station, Chief Magistrate, Elena Nderitu, she confirmed that most defilement cases handled at the courts come from the Kuresoi area and in a bid to help reduce the vice, they have jointly, together with other stakeholders carried out sensitization to the local residents to get them informed on the appropriate channels for use when faced with such a problem.
‘’Our sensitization exercise involves informing the members of the public on issues that are prevalent within the area such as defilement, illicit brew among others and the latest one was conducted in 2019,’’ noted the Chief Magistrate.
She blamed the spiking numbers of defilement cases on brewing of illicit liquor.
Molo Court handles cases from the larger Molo Sub-county that encompasses six other Sub-counties which include, Kuresoi North, Kuresoi South, Rongai, Londiani, Molo among others where 11 police stations bring their cases for hearing.
“In 2019 Molo Court had registered 143 defilement cases which are under sexual offenses and Keringet Police Station, having registered the highest number of such cases at 26 and the minimum registered at various police stations were those that had less than 10 cases,’’ said Nderitu.
She said that from January to July this year, 78 cases have been registered, most of them originating from Kuresoi area. Additionally, the courts have managed to conclude 28 defilement cases in the last one year.
In a phone interview with Nakuru County Nursing Officer-In- Charge of gender-based violence cases, Theophila Murage, attributed the increase of teenage pregnancies to ignorance, some are experimenting while others differ with their parents more, especially during this period when they are home due to covid-19.
Murage added that teenagers also attempt the vice as an act of revenge on the parents.
She observed that it is regrettable that teenage girls are either defiled or willingly indulge in sexual activities and remain mum and by the time their parents or guardians come to know, the girl is already pregnant.
Just as the courts, Murage says that her entity has carried out sensitization exercises informing parents and teenagers on the available services, what to do when attacked, the process involved among other avenues that help bring sobriety on this matter in the society.
She urged the teenagers not to remain silent when such issues occur but instead speak to their parents or anyone closer so as to get appropriate assistance promptly because other than pregnancy, one is exposed to sexually transmitted diseases and stigma to some extent.
Murage observed that young victims are not even aware of preventive measures available at health facilities. She notes that there is need to continue empowering girls with timely information to scale down incidents.
She advised parents to exercise their responsibility to their teenage girls and refrain from retrogressive cultural practices that will hold back dreams of their children.
KNA/ By Emily Kadzo