It Happened To Me – Sharing stories, sharing pain and hope at the Feminist Forum in Nairobi

Events that happened to her more than a decade ago are still very fresh in her mind. She has always been embarrassed to come out and open up about the despicable ordeal. The more she kept quiet the more the pain tore her heart into pieces.

Thanks to a Basic Feminist Leadership and Gender Based Violence Training of Trainers that was organized by CREA and BHESP in April 2016 she now feels free to share her story. She is now well equipped with skills to be on the frontline in advocating for the rights of bar hostesses and sex workers in Kenya.

She now understands the dynamics involved in the struggle against gender based violence. She is now well nurtured to embrace feministic values to effectively catalyze transformative social change. She is now driven to expand her voice and visibility in claiming and affirming her human rights and freedoms.

Here is her story

“I was employed as a bar hostess in a small club in Makutano ya Ndalani Centre in the outskirts of Matuu town. As a result of closing the job very late and the risk involved walking home alone at night, I used to sleep in a small room next to the bar’s counter,” narrates 36-year-old Fatima.

Fatima says they had a newly employed 22-year-old colleague who worked at the butchery section and slept in the bar area when it was closed.

“He would pull some of the tables aside and sleep on a thin mattress on the floor. Such were the working conditions that they accepted as normal

Fatima says they normally closed the bar around 11pm after which she retired to her makeshift bedroom to sleep after a heavy day’s work.

“At 3am, that fateful night, I woke up to use the washrooms which were situated outside the bar. Before I reached the washrooms the young man attacked and strangled me. I tried to defend myself but he overpowered me. I screamed but no one came to my rescue. My scream was absorbed in the heavy pouring rains. He tore my inner pants and raped me.”

“I cried the whole night and questioned God why it had to happen to me. I vowed not to keep quiet about the issue as we had no agreement with the young man neither did we even known each other as he was very new in the place,” the mother of 2 reckons.

The following morning she rushed to the nearby Administration Police {AP} post and reported the incidence and immediately the law enforcers went to the club and apprehended the suspect.

“The AP officers took the young man to Kithimani police station where he was booked and locked up. I was given the P3 form and I rushed to Matuu level 5 Hospital for medical examination. I had to pay the doctor Sh.1500 for him to examine me and fill the P3 form,” she adds.

She says the doctor took samples from her vagina to test for sperm cells and semen and the results indeed showed traces of male semen, as proof of male sexual contact.

“The doctor gave me medication for the neck injuries that I sustained when the young man tried to forcefully strangle me. I went back to the police station with the P3 form and handed it over to the police to start the legal process,” she says.

Fatima says after she reported the matter and contrary to her expectation, the Officer Commanding Kithimani Police Station turned against her and accused her of trying to ruin the life of a young man by claiming that he wanted to rape her.

“During patrols, the OCS would come to my workplace and accuse me of operating a bar after the stipulated hours, yet that was not the case. He would arrest me, beat me up and then locked me up. My boss would come the following morning and pay cash bail to secure my release.”

“I confronted the OCS and asked him why he was treating me so unfairly. Then he harshly responded; you want to waste a young man’s life. You want him to rot in prison?” she explains.

Despite the humiliation from the OCS, Fatima proceeded with the case for four months at Kithimani Law Courts and all indications were the young man was going to be found guilty and her much-needed justice will be served.

However when it was the doctor’s time to present his evidence, Fatima says the doctor in a cruel twist said the discharge from her vagina was not as a result of rape but as a result of Sexually Transmitted Infection!

“I believe the doctor was given a lot of money and that’s why he gave false evidence. The young man was acquitted and I left the court with a dejected heart as justice had failed to prevail in my direction thanks to a compromised doctor,” she narrates.

After the case was done, Fatima was forced to move to a different town as she couldn’t stand the shame associated with being raped leave alone the failure to get justice.

“Everyone in the area knew about the rape ordeal. I packed my things and moved to Matuu town hoping I won’t encounter the same ordeal again,” she concludes.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the subject

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