Kenyan Women Win Damages for Sexual Violence During 2007-8 Poll Violence

Nairobi — Many rape survivors suffer trauma and hardship more than a decade after the election violence

Four rape survivors won 4 million shillings ($35,906) each on Thursday, as Kenya’s High Court ruled the government failed to investigate sexual violence cases after a disputed 2007 poll.

The landmark ruling came after eight survivors – backed by human rights groups – filed a lawsuit in 2013 seeking accountability from authorities and redress for their suffering.

Awarding damages to four women survivors, High Court Judge Weldon Korir said authorities had failed to conduct “independent and effective investigations and prosecutions” of sexual violence during the post-election unrest.

The High Court found a “violation of the Kenyan state to investigate and prosecute violations of the rights to life, the prevention of torture, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and the security of person”.

The inter-ethnic violence in late 2007 and early 2008, some of the worst in Kenya’s history, erupted after Raila Odinga, then an opposition leader, accused then-President Mwai Kibaki’s party of stealing the election.

About 1,300 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes in the ensuing violence.

Human rights groups say hundreds of women, girls and men were sexually assaulted – including rape, gang rape, forced pregnancy and sodomy – and continue to suffer physical and psychological trauma and poverty more than a decade on.

The six women and two men who filed the lawsuit said they were disappointed not all survivors were awarded damages.

“We are happy that the court has finally recognised the harm that we suffered as victims. It has been a long journey,” said one female survivors who was awarded damages.