What is sex?

A person’s sex refers to one’s biology, specifically to one’s chromosomes, external genitalia, secondary sexual characteristics (development of breasts, pubic hair), and internal reproductive system. Sex is a term used historically and within the medical field to identify genetic/hormonal and physical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female, male, or intersex. Sex is a legal assignment at your birth.

What is gender?

Gender is a set of socially constructed and assigned behaviours and identity patterns which are often perceived to be intertwined and/or equivalent to one’s sexual biology. In fact, gender is individually constructed and fluid, having multiple meanings across cultures, geographies, communities, and individuals. Although society promotes the dualistic concept that people are either a feminine or a masculine, there are more than two genders.

Gender can be understood as having several components, including “Assigned Gender,” “Gender Expression,” “Gender Identity,” and “Gender Role.”

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault and abuse is any type of sexual activity that you do not consent to, including:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
  • Sexual intercourse that you say “NO” to
  • Rape
  • Attempted rape
  • Child molestation

Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches another person(s) during their intimate moments), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment. It can happen in different situations, in the home by someone you know, on a date, or by a stranger in an isolated place.

Sexual assault is the penetration or any touching of the private parts of any person:

– If done against that person’s consent, or

– If done to any person under 18 years old, with or without that person’s consent, or

– If done as a result of an abuse of authority (for example, the authority of a teacher over a student or a caregiver over a child).

Sexual assault also includes, but is not limited to, gang rape, the deliberate transmission of HIV (or other life threatening sexually transmitted disease) and incest (sexual relations with a relative).

Rape is a common form of sexual assault. It is committed in many situations — on a date, by a friend or an acquaintance, or when you think you are alone. Educate yourself on “date rape” drugs. They can be slipped into a drink when a victim is not looking. Never leave your drink unattended — no matter where you are. Attackers use date rape drugs to make a person unable to resist assault. These drugs can also cause memory loss so the victim doesn’t know what happened.

Rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault — no matter where or how it happens.

What is Gender Based Violence?

Gender-based violence both reflects and reinforces inequities between men and women and compromises the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. It encompasses a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and several harmful traditional practices. Although the higher number of victims are female, men can also be victims of gender based violence.

What are some of the forms of Gender Based violence?

Gender-based violence includes physical violence such as domestic Violence; sexual abuse, including rape and sexual abuse of children by family members; forced Pregnancy; sexual slavery; traditional practices harmful to women, such as honour killings, burning or acid throwing, female genital mutilation, dowry-related violence; violence in armed conflict, such as murder and rape; and emotional abuse, such as coercion and abusive language. Trafficking of women and girls for prostitution, forced marriage, sexual harassment and Intimidation at work is additional examples of violence against women.

What are rape, defilement, incest, and domestic violence?

Section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act states that a person commits the offence termed rape if he or she intentionally and unlawfully commits an act which causes penetration with his genital organs without consent or the consent is obtained by force or by means of threat or intimidation of any kind.

Defilement is sexual penetration with a child. Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is socially taboo.

Domestic Violence also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, family violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV), can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviours by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation.

Who commits sexual assaults?

Anyone (female or male) can commit a sexual assault – your boyfriend, family member (such as an uncle or cousin), friend, neighbour, acquaintance, teacher, someone you know and trust or a complete stranger.

Where do sexual assaults happen?

Anywhere: in your home or the home of the person committing sexual assault, at your work, office, school, car, street, field . . . in the city or in the country. You should be vigilant at all times.

Is sexual assault against the law?

Yes, sexual assault is against the law. There is no excuse for sexual assault. Just because someone knows you, or is your boss or an important adult in your life, or even if they have dated you, they do not have the right to sexually assault you. If you have been sexually assaulted, tell someone you trust and get help. You can also call or text Covaw using the numbers 0723 703 939 or 20351.

What should you do if you have been sexually assaulted?

– You should tell someone you trust, such as a parent, family member, teacher, or friend.

–  You should go to the police as soon as possible to report the crime.  Try not to go alone bring someone you trust, such as a parent, family member, teacher, or friend.

–   If you do not feel comfortable going to the police first, you should still seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the assault. You can report the assault from their. If  you are comfortable enough, take someone you trust to the hospital as well, such as a parent, family member, teacher, or friend.

–  Try not to take a shower or change your clothes before you go to the police station or are examined by a doctor or clinical officer.

–  If you must take off the clothes you were wearing during the assault, wrap them in newspaper or paper bag (not a plastic bag, which may destroy evidence) and bring them to the hospital with you.  These steps will help medical staff to collect evidence such as hair, nail and skin.

– Do not touch or remove anything from the place where the assault took place because important evidence may be found there.

What happens at the police station?

– Report the sexual assault to the police.

– The police will make a record of the report in the occurrence book (OB) and you will then be given an OB number.

– The police will ask you questions about the assault and you should answer the questions honestly and completely.

–  The police may ask you some questions which may be hard for you to talk about.  That’s ok!  They know this is difficult for you.  Take your time and do your best.

–  The police may also write down what you tell them and ask you to sign it at the bottom. This is called a “written statement”.  Read it carefully.  Before you sign it, be sure it correctly states what you told them.

–  The police will complete a form called a “P3” form.  This is a medical form.  It is important to get this form.  It is given to you by the police.  You should not be asked to pay for the form.  You should not offer to pay to get the form.  It is free.  If you are not given a P3 form, you should ask for one.

–  If you have not already been to the hospital, you will need to go to the hospital with the P3 form, which will be completed by a doctor or a clinical officer.

–  If you went to the hospital before going to the police station, the hospital should have given you a PRC1 form.  You should bring that form to the police station and give it to the police.  They will attach it to the P3 form.

–  If you have identification, such as a birth certificate or a driver’s license, you should bring it with you to the police station.

What happens at the hospital?

– If possible, go to the police station with someone you trust before going to the hospital.

– At the hospital, a doctor or clinical officer will ask you questions about the sexual assault.  Answer them as honestly and completely as you can.

– A doctor or clinical officer will examine your whole body and take samples of your blood and urine.

– You will also be given treatment (PEP) to help protect against HIV, other sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy.

– If you reported the sexual assault to the police before going to the hospital, you should have received a P3 form which will be completed and signed by the doctor or clinical officer.

–  If you have not yet reported the assault to the police or do not have a P3 form, the doctor or clinical officer will record the medical information on a “PRC1” form (Post Rape Care form) and sign the form.  There will be three copies of form PRC1, a white copy for you, a yellow copy to be given to the police and a green copy that will be kept by the hospital.

– You should take a spare set of clothes with you to the hospital as the clinical officer may wish to collect the clothes worn during the incident as evidence.

– If you have identification, such as a birth certificate or a driver’s license, you should bring it with you to the hospital.

What do I do if I’ve been sexually assaulted?

These are important steps to take right away after an assault:

  • Get away from the attacker to a safe place as fast as you can. Then call 911 or the police.
  • Call a friend or family member you trust. You also can call a crisis centre or a hotline to talk with a counsellor. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. It is important to get counselling from a trusted professional.
  • Do not wash, comb, or clean any part of your body. Do not change clothes if possible, so the hospital staff can collect evidence. Do not touch or change anything at the scene of the assault.
  • Go to your nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. You need to be examined, treated for any injuries, and screened for possible sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy. The doctor will collect evidence using a rape kit for fibres, hairs, saliva, semen, or clothing that the attacker may have left behind.

While at the hospital:

  • If you decide you want to file a police report, you or the hospital staff can call the police from the emergency room.
  • Ask the hospital staff to connect you with the local rape crisis centre. The centre staff can help you make choices about reporting the attack and getting help through counselling and support groups.

How can I help someone who has been sexually assaulted?

You can help someone who is abused or who has been assaulted by listening and offering comfort. Go with her or him to the police, the hospital, or to counselling. Reinforce the message that she or he is not at fault and that it is natural to feel angry and ashamed.

How does a woman know if she is in a domestic violence relationship?

When people talk about “domestic violence”, they usually see it as violence in the home, But, it is more than this. The definition of a “domestic relationship” includes relationships wherein two people are dating, and includes same-sex relationships and are also living together.

Most people also believe that domestic violence is physical violence. However, there are other types of abuse such as Economical abuse, Spiritual Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Psychological Abuse and Sexual Abuse.

Physical abuse includes things like slapping, hitting, shoving, stabbing, burning. There is emotional abuse, which includes things like swearing at her, threats, isolating her from family and friends. Sexual abuse includes rape, indecent assault, making her wear clothes or do sexual acts that make her feel uncomfortable.

Spiritual Abuse is forcing a person to abstain from their religious/spiritual beliefs and acting on them. Economical Abuse is a partner taking their partner’s hard earned money and not letting them spend it how they see fit. Or, in the case of a stay-at-home partner, it is the refusal to give them a stipend to spend as they see fit after an agreement.

When is it too late to get out of an abusive relationship?

It is never too late to get out of an abusive relationship. The minute you start feeling uncomfortable in the relationship or feel that your partner’s treatment of you has changed (in a negative way e.g. He has become very possessive), this is the time to take a hard look at your relationship, and try and identify what is different. This may be the time to seek help or decide to end the relationship.

What is dating violence?

Dating violence/relationship violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviours, including physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, sexual and emotional attacks that individuals use against their dating partners (ie: hitting, yelling, pushing, stealing money, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, etc.). Dating violence often coincides with the isolation of one partner by another, be it through physical restraint, psychological isolation, taking away mechanisms, or oppression that would allow a partner to leave (like money or self-confidence). Dating violence occurs in all types of relationships, and people of all genders, sexualities, abilities, races, ages, marital statuses, etc. can be perpetrators and survivors of dating violence.

What are date rape drugs?

Date rape drugs are substances that are commonly used to intoxicate or knock out people for the purpose of raping or sexually assaulting them. There are many substances that fall into this category and they are often given to people orally without their knowledge through methods such as slipping them into their drink. People who are given date rape drugs often become very intoxicated, may lose consciousness, become dizzy and lose the ability to consent to sexual activity. While some people take these or other drugs recreationally, this is not consent to sexual activity. Having sex with anyone under the influence of a drug (whether or not they took it consensually) is defined by law as rape, regardless of the gender, sexuality, race, ability, marital status, age, etc. of the survivor or perpetrator.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is coerced, unethical and/or unwanted sexual attention (including verbal harassment, demands for sex and/or subtle suggestions). Sexual harassment occurs when a superior (teacher, employer, etc.) causes someone to believe that they must submit to unwelcome sexual conduct in order to participate in a school or work activity. Hostile environment harassment occurs when unwelcome, sexually harassing conduct is so severe or persistent that it affects someone’s ability to participate in or advance at school or work. By legal definition, sexual harassment is viewed in terms of the impact of the harassing behaviour on an individual and not by the intent of the alleged perpetrator. In assessing whether an incident constitutes sexual harassment ranging from a strict violation of law to a case of inappropriate behaviour consideration is given to the entire context of the situation.

What is stalking?

Stalking is repeated following and/or harassment of another person with the intent to threaten or place in fear the person being harassed. Stalking is prolonged criminal behavior that endangers the person being stalked, their family, their friends, and the community, and also poses the threat of other types of violence. Behaviour requires repetition to qualify under most state statutes as stalking (usually 2 or more incidents). People can be stalked by strangers, former dating partners, relatives, acquaintances, siblings, former friends, teachers, etc. People of all genders, sexualities, races, ages, abilities, marital statuses, etc. can be survivors or perpetrators of stalking.

Stalking can also be done through the internet, and is just as dangerous. It can be through defamation of character and the continuous looking through a person’s social media accounts. It is known as cyber stalking.

What is the role of police in collecting evidence?

They are supposed to properly collect all such evidence, including clothing and undergarments worn by the victim. Preserve the bedding, or any other object on which the rape took place, and send it to the crime lab for analysis. The contact between the victim and the perpetrator may have resulted in the transfer of physical evidence in the form of semen, blood, hairs, skin fibres or other trace evidence, which will prove vital in identifying the assailant and/or prosecuting the case.

What are sexual assault and rape, and what’s the difference?

Sexual assault is non-consensual sexual conduct, excluding rape, including but not limited to oral copulation, penetration by a foreign object, sexual touching/battery of a person’s genitalia or other “sexual” areas, and attempted assault with the intent to commit rape. People of all genders, sexualities, abilities, races, ages, marital statuses, etc. can be perpetrators and survivors of sexual assault.

Rape is a non-consensual act of sexual intercourse, including sexual penetration, under any of the following circumstances:

1)  By force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury to the survivor or another.

2)   By preventing resistance by any intoxicating and anaesthetic substance (such as alcohol or drugs) and this condition was known or should have been known by the accused.

3)   When a person is unconscious of the nature of the act and the rapist knows it

4)  When a person is incapable of giving legal consent because of a disorder, disability, intoxication, or is underage. People of all genders, sexualities, marital statuses, abilities, races, ages, etc. can be perpetrators and survivors of rape.

Is there such a thing as “marital rape”?

Yes, this is a legal term and recognized as a crime in Kenya – she can lay a charge of marital rape against him if he forces her to have sex without her consent.

What else should you know?

– The key evidence that leads to convictions of criminals who commit sexual assault is:

– Medical evidence, such as the injuries suffered by the survivor of sexual assault as a result of the assault;

– Physical evidence, such as torn clothing; and

– Statements to the police and in court from the survivor of sexual assault and others, describing the assault honestly and completely.

– Do your best to bring the clothes that you were wearing during the assault to the hospital.

– The age of a child who has been sexually assaulted is very important.  Criminals who assault children under the age of 18 will receive longer prison sentences if the age of the survivor of sexual assault can be proven in court by a birth certificate.

– Parents, make sure that you have birth certificates for your children.  If you don’t, they are easy to obtain.

What should you do if your child, loved one or friend has been sexually assaulted?

– Be supportive and understanding.

– Assure the survivor of sexual assault that it is not their fault.

Is it a crime if you are sexually assaulted by an older relative?


Is it a crime if you are sexually assaulted by a teacher?


Is it a crime if you are sexually assaulted by a relative such as your uncle, or your step father?


Is it a crime if you are sexually assaulted by your mother’s boyfriend or new husband?


– Help the survivor of sexual assault get to the police and hospital as soon as possible.  The sooner the incident is reported and the medical evidence collected, the more likely it is that the police can successfully prosecute the person responsible for the assault.

– Parents – remember that you play a critical role in helping your child obtain a medical examination and report the incident.  If you give your child support and trust, they will have the strength to seek justice.

Is the victim’s consent a defense to a charge of sexual assault?

There are some circumstances where the law says that you cannot properly consent. Consent obtained by force or threat is not consent. If someone has sex with you when you are asleep, unconscious, or under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medicine, you have not given your consent. A child under 18 years old cannot legally consent to sex. Just because you have gone on a date or out dancing, or because someone has bought you dinner or an expensive present, with someone does not mean that you have consented to sex.

What is the punishment for sexual assault?

The punishment for sexual assault is imprisonment. Many forms of sexual assault now carry a minimum jail term of at least five years. Under some circumstances the required jail term could be as long as “life”—which means the rest of your life. The jail term for a sexual offense in Kenya cannot be reduced by an agreement between the prosecutor and someone who commits a sexual assault (a plea agreement).

What are women human rights?

Women human rights are the rights that women are entitled to. These are:

• Right to reproductive health care and information for example on family planning methods.

•Protection from Gender based violence.

•Protection from harmful cultural practices for example F.G.M, wife inheritance.

•Protection from sexual violence for example rape , incest

•Right to acquire, inherit and own property.

What is in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution?

  • The Bill of Rights places a duty on the state to address the needs of vulnerable groups which include women Article 21 (3).
  • This means that the government has a duty to look into issues and problems facing women like gender based violence.
  • Articles 26 and 43 address reproductive health. They place a duty on the government to make among others family planning services and information available to women.
  • Discrimination on the basis of sex is expressly prohibited under article 27 (3) and (4).

What legal frameworks/laws define marital rape?

Currently in Kenya, there is no law that expressly defines marital rape. That notwithstanding, the Constitution which is the supreme law of Kenya, guarantees every individual protection from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment. Marital rape therefore falls within the category of inhuman and degrading treatment as enshrined in the Constitution. The Sexual Offences Act does not expressly define marital rape. However, an exception might be drawn from the wording of the definition of rape to include rape between a husband and wife.

Can a boy or girl (under 18 years) be charged with defilement?

Yes. The Sexual Offences Act provides that if the person charged with defilement is below eighteen years, the court may upon conviction, sentence the accused person in accordance with the provisions of the Borstal Institutions Act and the Children’ s Act.

Can a parent withdraw a sexual offence case?

A parent is prohibited by law from withdrawing a sexual offences case. In criminal cases, the state prosecutes on behalf of the victim. Consequently, only the state through the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) can withdraw a criminal case of such magnitude.

Who is a child in conflict with the law?

A child in conflict with the law is one who has attained the age of 8 years and has committed an offence. However, the child will be prosecuted and sentenced in accordance to provisions of the Children’s Act.

What factors lead to a weak case in court?

  •  Lack of coherent evidence given in court.
  • Weak evidence due to tampered evidence; for example not fully adhering to the 72 hours reporting timelines, storage of evidence among other issues.
  • Failure of complainant attending court.
  • Lack of witnesses presenting themselves in court.

What is the appeal procedure?


Every accused person has the right of appeal within 14 days of conviction. If the court of first instance was the magistrates’ court, then the appeal will be lodged at the high court. An accused person lodges a record of appeal with a higher court within 14 days of sentencing. An appeal is only on points of law not of fact.

Where are the children detained after prosecution?

They are taken to Borstal institutions which fall under the mandate of the probation office. These are children between 15 to 18 years. They can only be held for a maximum period of three years.