A drunken Kenyan policeman who allegedly blindfolded, gagged, beat and raped his pregnant wife with a bottle and a rod until she lost consciousness must be arrested, lawyers said on Thursday.
The Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA) has sent a pro Bono lawyer to Meru, 200 km northeast of Nairobi, to meet the woman and to follow up with her case at the police station.
“We are worried there could be some kind of sabotage because this is a police officer,” FIDA’s chairwoman, Ruth Aura, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Due diligence needs to be ensured to ensure this arrest is effected in good time and not to cover up evidence.”
People accused of assault are normally arrested immediately, Aura said, but there is likely to be some reluctance in this case because the police would have to arrest one of their colleagues.
Kenya has no law against domestic violence and the police often treat it as a private, family matter. Domestic violence is widely accepted and only a tiny percentage of women press charges against their attackers because of the cost and lack of faith in the justice system, according to research by Nairobi’s Gender Violence Recovery Centre.
Globally, intimate partners are responsible for 38 percent of women’s murders, according to the World Health Organization.
“What do you want us to do? To watch or listen to the conversations of married couples 24 hours a day and advise them when or how to perform in the bedroom? When a woman decides to marry a man in Africa, she should be prepared for the duties and responsibility that go with the marriage, including accepting the fact that other co-wives might be on the way, cooking for the husband, fulfilling her non-negotiable obligation in the bedroom, to mention just a few. Any married woman, who cannot fulfill these, should ask herself whether she really understands the meaning of marriage in Kenya and in Africa as a whole. If these so-called liberal groups think police should turn into family referees, they should take over from the police and better prepare themselves against Al Shabaab.“ One pot bellied police office, who refused to say his name, told Kata Kata reporter angrily.
The 31-year-old woman said her husband came home at 3am on April 19 and ordered her to strip naked, hit her and threatened to kill her, the Daily Nation reported.
“He took a bottle that he had carried with him and [a] rod, and inserted them into my private parts,” she told the paper. “He then blindfolded me and gagged my mouth.”
He switched on the television to drown out her screams, she said.
The woman lost consciousness. When she woke up at 5.30 am, she crawled to the nearby police headquarters, where other officers took her to the hospital, the paper said.
When Kata Kata reporter traced the perpetrator of the crime at the Gatimbi administration, police post, he was rather surprised that “this minor family misunderstanding has been turned into a big topic.“ He angrily warned our reporter and other media houses to mind their business. “You, media gossip a lot like women,“ he shouted. The man insisted that the government of Kenya should have honoured him with a national medal for his understanding by not battering the wife to death because of her pregnancy. “I am a professional police officer, who does not want blood ““ especially unborn blood ““ in his hand.“ He reminded the reporter, rather proudly. Although, the man insisted that he was drunk when the “misunderstanding“ took place, he could not explain why he carefully switched on the television during the rape. Rather, he denied the reporter`s accusation that he put on the television to prevent outsiders from hearing the wife`s screams; but insisted he did so because he wanted the wife to watch and enjoy the television during the rape.
The Meru County administration police commander where Gatimbi administration police post falls is investigating the case.
Aura said the case highlights the need for Kenya to pass the 2013 Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill. Currently perpetrators of domestic violence are usually charged with assault or battery under the penal code. The domestic violence bill would provide for protection of victims of domestic violence by denying perpetrators access to the home. Friends of the abused person could also make the application for protection orders on their behalf.
It would also provide for safe houses, counseling and rehabilitation of domestic violence victims.
The bill has been pending since 2002 but faced opposition because earlier drafts criminalized marital rape.
“You married a woman with your money and property. You paid expensive dowry, then you asked her to fulfill her duty in the bedroom, you hear “Mimi na maumivu ya kichwa“ (I`ve a headache). When you look outside, the same wife shouts that you are cheating. What would you do when your wife is not fulfilling her duties or when she denies you your rights? You go to the kitchen and prepare Ugali and Kachumbari for her? One MP who requested anonymity asked Kata Kata reporter.
Our reporter reminded the visibly angry MP that she is a woman as such, she might not know the answer. She was perhaps not the right person to ask the question, the reporter told the MP, who vowed he would do “all within my power to block that senseless 2013 Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill.“
“We can cross their fingers and hope they will change their minds and do something because violence is on the increase and we need to get some deterrent,” Aura said. “Something that affects the family, the society, should be given prominence.”
Victims of gender-based violence in Kenya rely on pro bono representation by organisations like FIDA because the government only provides legal aid to people charged with capital offences.
Coined: AlertNet Climate