The brutal election that led to men, women and children being raped

A new report says hundreds of women and girls were brutally raped during conflict after the Kenyan election in 2007

Jess Staufenberg
Thursday 18 February 2016 13:07
A Kenyan woman mourns during violence which broke out during and after 2007 elections. The ICC say much of it was planned by opposition parties.
A Kenyan woman mourns during violence which broke out during and after 2007 elections. The ICC say much of it was planned by opposition parties.

The full scale of the brutality and rapings that engulfed Kenya after one of the most bitter - and ultimately violent - elections in its history has been revealed in a new report.

The Kenyan election in late 2007 took the country almost to the brink of civil war after accusations of vote rigging and evidence of planned attacks between party supporters left more than 1,200 people dead.

Now survivors of the violence meted out on civilians - often by police and party support groups - have spoken out about the traumatic events which saw hundreds of women and girls brutally raped.

In one incident, an 80-year-old man was told to join in raping his own daughters and, when he refused, was himself raped.

Another woman was left so severely injured after a gang attack that she remains brain damaged and unable to take care of herself.

Supporters of Mr Odinga start to protest corrupt elections during 2008 in a conflict which brought the country to the brink of civil war

More than eight years after the violence occurred, survivors have pointed to a government failure to provide medical care and financial and psychological support as many have been virtually unable to re-build their lives.

One father was told by a group of men to rape his own daughters, who later died of the injuries and disease inflicted upon them, before having the same horror turned on him, according to Human Rights Watch, author of the new report.

"They beat and raped both my daughters; so many of them. Then they told me to rape my children. I refused," he said.

“They did a very bad thing to me. They made me their wife, they made me a homosexual. They removed all my clothes and [left] with them.”

Perpetrators of attacks which saw more than 350,000 people displaced have not been prosecuted. They could be one of three main groups who brought the country to the brink of outright civil war in 2008, according to a report by the UK's Department for International Development (Difd).

A surge in hope had swept across Kenya when Mwai Kibaki, of the Party of National Unity (PNU), became the first opposition leader to successfully defeat the 24-year authoritarian rule of Daniel arap Moi, leader of the Kenyan African National Union in 2002 - 10 years after multi-party democracy was first introduced.

Kenyan woman who have been displaced by the post-election violence queuing for food. A new report says hundreds were raped during that period.

But Mr Kibaki's promises to reduce corruption, inequalities between ethnic groups and more soon faded as he almost immediately failed to honour his word on sharing power with former opposite leader Raila Odinga, as well as later re-appointing two of his closest allies implicated in multi-million dollar scandals before the investigation into corruption had even closed.

Amid a landscape of disillusionment in 2007, opposition leader Mr Odinga launched a challenge with his new Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) - with the country's poll chief announcing in January 2008 he "did not know who had won the election.

Violence rapidly erupted. First, youths plundered government buildings and their supporting ethnic groups. Second, opposition leaders appeared to have planned retaliatory violence in the event of Mr Kibaki re-winning the election - which it was eventually announced he had.

And third, reprisal attacks by the government and the police were "responsible for much of the violence" that then followed, according to Difd.

The new report by Humans Right Watch reveals that hundreds of women and girls were raped throughout.

Apiyo P, a 53-year-old mother of five, said: "I am not at peace, my body is not the same. [...] I have pain in my lower abdomen. I have serious back ache.

"I have so much shame. I feel hopeless. I just sit and wait to die."

The International Criminal Court named six high-profile Kenyans as ultimately behind the violence, accusing them of a criminal plan to attack supporters of Mr Kibaki - but does not have enough evidence to pursue charges against either him or Mr Odinga, according to the BBC.

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