“I have so much shame. I feel hopeless. I just sit and wait to die,” Mercy said of her rape ordeal in the 2007-08 post-election violence.
“I am not at peace, my body is not the same. If I am pressed, urine just comes out. I feel weak, sometimes there’s a foul discharge and pain in my lower abdomen and back.”
That’s what Mercy (not her real name) told Human Rights Watch in an interview.
She doesn’t’ have money to go to hospital.
Another survivor, 47-year-old Jessy (not her real name) was gang raped with three other women by four men in January 2008 at an IDP camp in Molo.
Her husband beats her, verbally abuses her, and refuses to sleep with her. Her family was also evicted from their home during the PEV. She’d leave her husband but has nowhere to go.
Mercy and Jessy are among 700 women who might never get justice after their DNA evidence samples were destroyed by a South Korean laboratory where they were sent for safe keeping, pending directions from Kenya.
But according to protocol, the samples were destroyed after six months since they received no direction and their policy allows destruction after six months
During Kenya’s 2007-08 PEV, thousands of women were raped. Men and boys too.
An East African Organisation, Crime Scene Investigations (DNA testing services) facilitated the collection and storage of DNA and other samples from 700 women who were sexually abused.
The DNA evidence was stored by a South Korean laboratory, Humanpass Inc, for safekeeping, awaiting directions from CSI in Nairobi on their future transport and use.
Director and head of humanitarian services Murigi Kinyanjui said the securing of these samples outside Kenya was important to safeguard their integrity and protect them from destruction by suspects.
CSI said they could not immediately use the evidence as they lacked funds for the analysis and profiling of the DNA.
“In 2020, when we were ready to continue the case, we were informed by one of the individuals (Mr James Lee) who assisted us secure these samples in South Korea that they had been destroyed,” Kinyanjui said.
He called it a unilateral decision taken without Kenya’s consent.
“This act we believe is a crime against Kenya’s victims of sexual assault and a gross violation of their human rights,” he added.
CSI now wants the South Korean government to investigate the matter and ensure justice, presumably monetary, is done.
CSI Nairobi together with their international partners then, Bode Technology Group, made global history by being the first firms to collect, catalogue and store crucial forensic DNA evidence from the 700 survivors.
Kinyanjui said CSI Nairobi staff risked their lives by securely packaging, cataloguing and transporting these samples from Kenya to the US, while Bode Technology incurred heavy transportation costs from Kenya to the US.
“The collection, cataloguing and transportation of this forensic DNA evidence from an active environment characterised by violence was an effort of great human sacrifice,” Kinyanjui said.
He added, “Sexual assault victims risked further rape or even death by the mere act of traveling under extremely challenging conditions to hospital for medical attention.”
The evidence was the only scientific evidence pertaining to the PEV that can stand alone and be successfully used by both the International Criminal Court and Kenyan or regional courts in the prosecution of suspects.
(Edited by V. Graham)