May 2019: 12-year-old Esther (not her real name) is special. She has limited capacity to mentally reason, learn or even solve simple problems. Esther is yet to undertake simple and practical everyday skills such as combing her hair. Esther suffers from intellectual disability. But what’s even more sad, is that, at a tender age of just 12 years, Esther is now a mother! No. She did not wish to be one. You see, Esther was allegedly being defiled several times by a 43-year-old man, Kamau (not his real name)! Kamau is Esther’s neighbour. But a bad neighbour! When the incident got known to the public, Kamau was almost lynched by the public through mob justice. He however escaped that when he got rescued by police. Esther’s case was forwarded to the local courts. It is over two years now; the case is still ongoing. Esther is yet to find her justice.
A lot has changed for worse since Esther was sexually abused! She no longer goes to school. Due to her nature, she has no ability to raise her child. Her humble family has no choice but to take the responsibility of bring up both Esther and her child. Esther’s mother is also not mentally stable! Both Esther and her mother are both victims and survivors of domestic violence. Many times, the community has observed how both of them have suffered from the hands of their abusive father. A father, who needed to be both a provider and a protector to them. Sadly, stories like these of Esther and her mother are many. Only few get to be highlighted and solutions reached.
COVAW with support from African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) has launched a project to enhance access to Justice for Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Victims with Intellectual Disabilities” in Nairobi, Kiambu and Narok Counties in Kenya. The Project seeks to offer psycho social support and offer court representation for victims such as Esther.