NAIROBI, KENYA – A man will spend the rest of his life in jail after a Kenyan court found him guilty of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl in his neighbourhood.
Cindy * grew up in poverty in a small village on the outskirts of Nairobi. On turning 8, her life took a painful turn. A neighbour, a man she knew very well and trusted, lured Cindy while she was playing outside the house and sexually abused her.
The man who hurt her knew she had been born with a mental disability that limited her speech. He took advantage of her vulnerability thinking she wouldn’t speak for herself. But he was wrong.
The assault occurred on March 8, 2017, at around 6:00pm. Cindy then lived with her grandmother. That day, she took longer than usual to return home from school. The following morning, her grandmother discovered that she was having difficulties while walking and her school uniform had bloodstains.
When the grandmother asked Cindy about it, Cindy was only able to say the name of perpetrator through tears. She was rushed to the hospital where she was admitted for three days. The grandmother reported the abuse, and the neighbour was soon arrested.
International Justice Mission Kenya learnt of Cindy’s case from the court. By that time, the case hearing had begun, and the prosecution was having difficulties because Cindy had been unable to testify three times.
IJM staff started working to get Cindy the justice she deserved. IJM lawyers supported the public prosecutor who was handling the case. IJM social workers also counselled Cindy and helped her prepare to share the truth in court until eventually, she testified bravely against the man who attacked her through an intermediary.
Although she broke down several times when she was asked to testify, Cindy’s evidence helped put the man in prison after a five-year trial.
“It’s him who did bad things to me. My school uniform had blood, and my grandmother took me to hospital,” she bravely testified.
The court said the prosecution presented watertight evidence and after listening to Cindy’s testimony, they were in no doubt of the truth.
On October 24, the man who attacked Cindy was found guilty, convicted and sentenced to life for the grave harm he did to her.
Esther Njuguna, the IJM Aftercare worker who supported Cindy and her grandmother, was impressed by their resilience. The grandmother, who was born with a physical disability and had to use a wheelchair, accompanied Cindy to all the 16 counselling sessions IJM provided, and never missed court sessions regardless of how straining it was.
Sadly, Cindy’s grandmother died soon after she had testified in court. Esther believes if she was alive today,
“she would be so happy. I believe her resilience propelled everyone else to fight so bravely for Cindy’s justice.”
Esther adds, “For me, it’s a case that has really taught and moved me a lot. I saw everyone playing their role. The magistrate recognised Cindy…needed special care and support and allowed her to testify in the most simple way she could.”
Cindy now stays with her sister. IJM Kenya will continue to support Cindy as she continues down her road of healing. As the man who attacked her begins his term in prison, her family is happy that the neighbour can’t hurt her or any other children again.
* Photo does not depict the survivor in this story and is used for illustrative purposes.
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