A lot of Crime some would say go unpunished. Sexual crimes for instance, most of these cases get lost in the wind. The victims lose hope of the justice systems and the perpetrators go unpunished. This is the reason so many people fear reporting cases of defilement and rape. I recently met 4 women in Nakuru whose Children were defiled by the same person and they told me that the perpetrator was free and walks around the neighbourhood.They explained the pain they feel having to see him every day and their children are terrified whenever they meet him in the neighborhood.
Mama Ashley, (not her real name) is among the four women whose kid was defiled by the same man. She recalled the incident and with tears in her eyes told me what happened. In 2016, Early February, as mama Ashley was selling sukumawiki, she received a disturbing phone call that her daughter was in the police station. She quickly rushed there and found the other three women together with their children. One of the women, explained to her what had happened. Their daughters had been going to Paul’s (not his real name) house and on that day he was caught with a neighbor naked together with the children. When the kids were asked how long he had been touching them they all said for three days. They admitted that he had threated to kill their parents if they told anyone what he was doing. The children further explained that Paul had been buying them sweets and mandazi’s and it’s why they went to his house.
The three women were referred to the hospital but since it was late they all agreed to go to the hospital the next day.
When I met them they told me that Paul was not in jail and that their case had somewhat gone under water. One of the reasons being the evidence they had presented in court was not admissible.
Now very many people do not understand what kind of evidence is required to get justice for alleged cases of sexual Violence. They do not know how to handle the evidence that can link a sexual crime to the perpetrator. In the case of Mama Ashley and the three women, for starters they did not go to the hospital immediately and when they went home they washed their children, changed their clothes and even gave them food. And that was how concrete evidence that would have linked the perpetrator to the crime was lost.
There are various things that we are constantly being reminding to do in cases of sexual violence. One of those things is to go to the hospital within 72hours. Most people do not understand why this is a necessity. Aside from being given proper medication, the hospital collects a lot of evidence from the victim that can be used to link a perpetrator to the alleged sexual crime .We are also told not to shower because a victim of sexual crime, is a crime scene. And like any other crime scene, they need to be preserved so that concrete evidence can be collected from them
I am going to share with you the Do’s and don’ts and why they are important to follow in the case of sexual violence to help you get justice for the injustice done to you:
- Do report to the hospital within 72 hours. This is so that you can get medical attention as soon as possible to prevent you from being pregnant or even contracting HIV or any STI. Again this is where forensic evidence such as blood, Saliva and Urine can be collected for lab tests. This will help create a DNA profile for the perpetrator at the Government chemist. Hospitals have a mandate to fill in a PRC form (Post Rape Care) which is the legal document taken to court. Hospitals also act as legal representatives as expert witness to the alleged sexual crime.
- Do report to the police. Once the PRC form has been filled there is a P3 (police form) that you are required to take to the police. Reporting to the police enables your case to be registered and also important for collecting statements.
- Do not shower. Like I said earlier, the victim of a sexual crime is a crime scene and needs to be preserved so that important evidence is not washed away.
- Do not eat. Most people do not understand why but it is important that the victim doesn’t eat immediately. This is because eating will corrupt saliva evidence especially if the victim was forced to suck the private genitals. Again eating makes urine be produced and we established urine is an important forensic evidence. Once the victim urinates DNA evidence is lost.
- Do not put the clothes in a polythene bag or wrap in a newspaper. The clothes that the victim had worn are important in collecting DNA evidence hence should be handled by the standards given which is to package in a brown bag.
Those are just a few tips that will help you get justice for the crime that was unjustly committed to you. You deserve justice. Crimes of Sexual violence are delicate and evidence is what will get you the justice you seek.
Despite what you might think there are very many victims of sexual violence who have received justice and it is why both you and I should break the silence on Gender Based Violence.