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Kenyan GBV activists unite to demand justice for rape victims

Written by John Ndeta

Banners left by #JusticeforLiz demonstrators at the Inspector General's gate in Nairobi. [Picture: Wambui Gicheru ]The case of LIZ a sixteen year old girl who was gang-raped in Busia County, in Western Kenya over four months ago has literately refused to go away.

LIZ was walking home from her grandfather’s funeral when she was ambushed by six men who took turns raping her and then threw her unconscious body down a six meter pit latrine. LIZ horror story has sent shockwaves throughout the world and the police are under pressure to respond.

“Nothing will truly change unless the government is put under the global spotlight,” says Fanis Lisiagali from Health Care Assistance Kenya.

 Up to now, nobody has been arrested for this offence. Not the rapists nor the police and on the last day of October 2013, gender activists from all over the world took part in a peaceful march in Nairobi to  press for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators and the security officers who abetted this heinous crime.

The gender activists led by Peace Initiative Kenya partner, Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW) in partnership with African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), Men Engage Kenya (MenKen), Africa UNiTE and AVAAZ stormed the city centre with chants of:  “We want Justice for LIZ”, “Slashing grass is not punishment for rape.” 

At the Inspector General of Police’s Office,  the activists presented a raft of demands among them immediate arrest and punishment of the perpetrators and the police who let them go scot-free respectively. 

They also asked the government to fully meet medical bills for LIZ and many other women who have been raped in the past. 

“We call on you to deliver justice for Liz including the immediate arrest and prosecution of her rapists and full disciplinary action for the police officers who dismally failed to handle her case,” read Saida Ali,  the Executive Director at COVAW. 

The statement further said that by holding the police officers to account, the Inspector General will send a strong message to police everywhere that rape is not a misdemeanor, is a serious crime, and if   police do not uphold the law they will be held to account. 

The activists demanded a public apology from the Inspector General and a commitment to deal with failures within the police force to ensure due diligence in protecting survivors of Gender Based Violence  (GBV). 

In his response, William Okello, Chief of Staff at the Inspector General’s office acknowledged receipt of the 1.3 million petitions and promised to leave no stone unturned in the case of LIZ. The police  agreed to a follow up meeting on November 1st where the Inspector General David Kimaiyo would be in attendance with representatives of the women rights networks to finalise on the action points raised  to secure justice, not just for LIZ but for every woman and girl who suffers from GBV. 

“The case of LIZ is a living testimony that rape is still rife in Kenya. There is need for stiffer penalties and strict adherence to the laws governing GBV such as Sexual Offenses Act (2006),” said Nebila  Abdulmelik (FEMNET). She opines that there is an urgent need to establish reparation mechanisms for survivors of sexual violence.  

 This article was originally published in the

 The writer is the Media and Peace campaign coordinator, Peace Initiative Kenya

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