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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 23 November 2014

RAPE, DEFILEMENT AND EARLY PREGNANCIES WREAK HAVOCAMONG BUNGOMA SCHOOL GIRLS

When Justice Njoki Ndungu of the Supreme Court served as a nominated MP in President Mwai Kibaki’s government, she solely and wholeheartedly fought for the rights of the girlchild in Kenya - just like Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch championed for the girl rights when then she was patron of the Kenya Girl Guides Association, now with the International Criminal Court before she handed the baton to then First Lady Mama Lucy Kibaki.
 So did in the long run, Justice Njoki came up and drafted the sexual offences Act of 2006 which spelt out stiff penalties on anyone found guilty to have either raped or defiled a minor.
The members of the national assembly unanimously enacted the Bill and President Kibaki assented to it and it became a law which is also spelt out in the current constitution that is four years old after her promulgation in August 2010.
Strange enough, Justice Ndungu was branded all kind of names by male MP for having drafted the Bill but her efforts to protect the rights of the girl child in the society saw her being elevated to the position of judge of the Supreme Court.
However, hell has broken loose in Bungoma county where morals have sunk to its lowest ebb with decay as a result of outdated cultural practices where girlchild is seen as a tool of entertainment and giving birth.
When we visited the home of Mama Gladys Korir in Mt Elgon subcounty, we found her making porridge for her two twin granddaughters of nine months old. Upon intervention, we learnt that her daughter who was in Standard Six was impregnated by her uncle during the December holidays forcing her to drop out of school due to her pregnancy.
Mama Korir told the press that her daughter was enticed by her uncle to visit his home in bid to help him with household chores since his wife was hospitalised, adding that he took that chance and impregnated her.
“Her uncle forced her to sleep with him on condition that he will buy school uniforms for her when schools open and warned her that she should not tell anybody of what transpired,” posed Mama Korir.
She added that when schools reopened for the first term, her daughter had constant ailments ranging from vomiting, severe malaria and nausea, arguing that the school headmistress advised her to take her daughter to the hospital in bid to establish whether her daughter was pregnant.
“I almost collapsed to learn that my daughter was two months pregnant and that her uncle was responsible, I got the sad news when I took my daughter to a nearby health centre here in Mt Elgon,” narrated Mama Korir.
Mama Korir further said that she broke the news to the clan elders who summoned the uncle to ascertain the truth of the matter but got a rude shock after the clansmen were compromised with money saying that no justice was done up to date.
We later discovered that Mama Korir’s husband died during the post-election violence while working in Eldoret as an office messenger in one of the companies in town. She was left a widow with six kids to fend for. Nevertheless, in mid 2013 in the same Mt Elgon subcounty, seven pupils from Chepkurkur Primary School were found to be pregnant forcing them to drop out of school yet they were candidates who were being prepared for KCPE exams of 2013.
This forced Bungoma county women representative  Reginalda Wanyonyi to open a rescue centre for the girl child in Mt Elgon in a bid to protect them from beasts in long trousers thirsting for young school girls in the area.
Bungoma county deputy governor Hillary Chongwony who hails from Mt Elgon subcounty told the press during an interview in his office that school girls were being impregnated as a result of young girls sleeping at their neighbours, arguing that their parents have small huts that cannot accommodate them and their children.
Chongwony added that hungry men take this opportunity and impregnate them, saying that others are hijacked on the way while going to sleep where the  girls don’t reveal what usually happens on the way as a result of outdated cultural beliefs in the area.
To make matters worse, a member of county assembly of Bungoma representing Bumula ward is allegedly said to have impregnated a Form Two student from Mateka Secondary School in Bumula constituency last.
Henry Nyongesa, the Bumula MCA, was never arrested after the horrifying incident despite the fact that he sought the services of a medical practitioner in one of the chemists in Bungoma town in a bid to procure an abortion for the young miserable girl that failed.
The news of the botched abortion and the involvement of the MCA in the clandestine love affair with the student came to the limelight when she was taken to Bungoma County Referral Hospital for specialised treatment since she had persistent bleeding in her private parts.
Ironically, instead of the MCA being arrested for his inhuman acts, the police arrested the student and charged her with the offence of trying to procure an abortion which is contrary to Sec 26 of the Kenyan constitution.
It took the efforts of the civil society spearheaded by the Centre for Human Rights chairman, Philip Wekesa, who wrote a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko in a bid to ensure the affected family gets justice.
Wanyonyi’s prayers were answered when the DPP replied his letter which led to the arrest of Henry Nyongesa and later arraigned in a Bungoma court, the matter is still pending in court and it would be sub-judice to delve much into the issue.
Recently, Bungoma county commissioner Maalim Mohammed raised the red flag on the increasing number of defilement and rape cases in Bungoma county among school girls and infants where he said a total of 243 defilement cases and 10 rape cases have been reported to have occurred since January 2014.
Maalim also said that there are 53 students in Bungoma county set to sit for both KCSE and KCPE who have been impregnated by either their teachers or there close relatives.
“Hii ni mchezo gani inafanyika hapa Bungoma, kama ni pombe tunataka kujua ni nani hafanyi kazi lakini pia wanafunzi wanashiriki ngono wenyewe kwa wenyewe” (what is happening in Bungoma? This is painting a bad picture to the county and if its chang’aa brewing that is causing this, we want to know who is not doing his work but also there is student to student affairs which must be condemned,” lamented Maalim.
“I am worried with the rate at which our young girls are being defiled in the county and this automatically shatters their future dreams and ambitions and many at times only a few cases are reported whereas others parents are compromised,” said Maalim.
 The Bungoma county commissioner warned such parents against being compromised in a bid to conceal evidence at the expense of endangering the lives of their daughters, arguing that they risk being prosecuted as per the requirements of the law.
“I wonder how a parent who has been struggling with the well being of her daughter since the days she was born can accept to be compromised by such evil people in the society. We should fight to promote girl child education but not destroy their future aspirations by being compromised with money,” said Maalim.
In a rejoinder, Bungoma county director of education Charles Anyika concurred with county commissioner’s remarks where he affirmed that indeed, 53 girls that were preparing to sit for this year’s Kenya Certificate Secondary School  and Kenya Certificate of Primary Education respectively had been impregnated by unknown people.
Anyika told the press that a spotcheck by officials from his docket indicated that the number could be even higher, saying that some school heads declined to disclose how many pregnant students they had in their respective schools they head.
“We are estimating the number to be more than 100 students and that we have issued a directive to all school heads to allow the affected students carry on with their exams in a promising environment in a bid to try their luck in education,” said Anyika.
The county director of education revealed that they had to put in place standby vehicles to help the girls in the event of any of them going into labour during the just concluded exam period.
 Anyika blamed boda boda operators, teachers, married men and close relatives of the affected students for being responsible for the rising pregnancies reported in the county, adding that parents should act as role models to their daughters in a bid to ensure they complete their studies before engaging in sexual acts.
“Poverty is the main cause of the high number of pregnancies reported and we are sounding a warning to all those men thirsting for school girls that their days are numbered and very soon we shall rein in on them,” said Anyika.
The move comes a day after a 23-year-old man was lynched to death by angry residents in Kipsikirok village, Mt Elgon subcounty over allegations that he had raped and murdered a school girl.
The suspect is said to have kidnapped the 14-year-old who had been sent by her mother to fetch firewood in Mt Elgon Forest only to meet with the deceased who raped her and later slit her throat.
Chepyuk assistant chief Rodgers Sengule told the press that the naked body of the 14-year-old school girl at Kibunet Primary School was found with a slit throat the following day.
The assistant chief revealed that the body of the minor was found in the forest on Sunday of October 12, a day after she went missing.
Cheptais subcounty police boss, Ezekiel Kiche, appealed to the public not take the law into their own hands, arguing that when they lynch such suspects to death, they find it difficult to get information from them that can lead to the arrest of other suspects.
Bungoma county governor Kenneth Lusaka during Madaraka Day celebrations recently, lamented at the high rate which infant school girls were being raped, defiled and even impregnated. He said that on that day, a 73-year-old man had defiled a six-year-old girl at Esiokubulo village, arguing that such a trend was giving Bungoma county bad image.
“Wale wazee ambao wamekuwa hawana speed gavana kwa sababu hatutakubali ujinga kama huo” (those old men who don’t have speed governors to ensure they have them on since we will not give room to them to continue defiling our daughters) Lusaka stated.
Lusaka asked spiritual leaders, teachers, elected women leaders, ministry of education and all stakeholders concerned to swallow their pride and come up with a proper strategy to help save the deteriorated situation.
Wanyonyi revealed that six Class Eight candidates at Tunya Primary School had been made mothers, arguing that Bungoma county commissioner  Mohammed to ensure the culprits are brought to book.
However, all what was said during Mashujaa Day celebrations by Bungoma leaders fell on deaf ears given the fact that three days later, another Class Two pupil was raped in Bungoma South subcounty.
Jane Netima from Sinoko Primary School told the press that a group of six men broke into their house and threatened to slash her grandmother she is living with.
“When they threatened to slash my grandmother, I ran into the kitchen to hide myself and little did I know that one of them had seen me and came and commanded me to lie down. When I refused, he striped me nude and raped me several times and penetrated me leaving bleeding profusely,” posed Netima
Bungoma South police boss Limbitu Kirunya confirmed the incident saying that the suspects had been put to book.