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Citizens action sees rapists convicted for their crimes

23rd April 2015 Citizen action did a great deal of good recently in Kenya, when 3 alleged rapists were made to face the long arm of the law.

The case started almost 2 years ago when a girl was raped and dumped in a latrine. After her rescue, she identified 3 men, who were arrested and then released after cutting grass at the police station.

The case sparked an international online petition that drew more than 1.7 million signatures from people demanding justice. And now, the 3 rapists have been sentenced the three men to 15 years for gang rape and seven years for causing grievous harm, to be served concurrently.

Reactions to the sentencing are mixed; Nebila Abdulmelik, a gender and rights activist said the sentence is a step in the right direction.

“One thing that this case will do is really give hope other survivors to report and follow through with their case and also for perpetrators to know they cannot perpetrate such crimes and go scot free, as in, there will be consequences; there will be civil society that will mobilise around cases such as this; that we will hold governments to account for their commitments. We can only hope and pray that it will act as a deterrent,”

Nairobi resident, Michael Ogolla however feels that a harsher sentence would have been better. He said

“Because it was a rape case, they should not only be jailed for 15 years or punished to cut grass, it’s supposed to life imprisonment because someone like that should not be allowed back into society to live with people. That’s what I was thinking,”

Annette Lankei agreed, saying

“People learn from experience. They should have doubled the sentence to something like 30 years, then there would be people who would be too afraid to go to prison for that number of years. So this would help to reduce the number of rape cases even if it wasn’t by a huge margin,”

Another Nairobi resident Abdirazak Rashid said

“It will serve as an example when it is done immediately but now that it has taken such a long time; in fact it was done due to pressure from the public not from their own and that is not helpful. … Even I think they will not be there for 15 years, maximum they will be there for 15 months and that how things in Kenya are done. When there is a problem, the court will delay it until the public forgets what it is. They will do what they call ‘underhanded deals,’

The Director of Public Prosecutions has said his office will be calling for a review of the sentence against the three men and will seek longer jail terms.

Kenya’s Sexual Offences Act stipulates that a person convicted of committing rape can face a sentence of 10 years, to life in prison.

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