KNH only concerned about reputation, not victims


KNH only concerned about reputation, not victims
Kenyatta National Hospital

In Summary

  • After reading KNH's statement, one quickly realises that the management is not saddened by the possible reality that women are being raped; their only major concern is that the name and reputation of their facility is being tarnished by these allegations.
  • By calling on the public to ignore these rape allegations, KNH management has effectively silenced both present and future victims of rape.
  • A more appropriate response would be to unconditionally condemn any rape allegations and to unequivocally launch rape investigations.

By Ruth Nekura, Esther Kimani and Milanoi Koiyiet

In their press statement dated January 19, 2018, Kenyatta National Hospital (KHN) management begins by expressing sadness about rape allegations happening within their facility.

After reading the entire statement, one quickly realises that the management is not saddened by the possible reality that women are being raped; their only major concern is that the name and reputation of their facility is being tarnished by these allegations.

They maintain that the claims are damning and untrue as though orchestrated by vindictive women who, while nursing their pre-term babies, decide to falsify rape allegations.

The management absolves itself responsibility by claiming that no mother or patient has ever reported rape. While reasonable, this statement is ignorant of the reality that women hardly report rape due to stigma and shame associated with rape.

Security measures put in place by KNH including CCTV and uniformed security guards may be effective in securing public forms of crime. It is true that women can be raped in public spaces such as corridors and lifts, especially at night when the corridors are silent and vacated. However, most sexual crimes do not happen in public spaces. There is significant evidence showing that rape mostly happens in private spaces away from the public eye and often without witnesses.

The management’s insinuation that mothers walk in groups simply because of the numbers and breastfeeding schedules is a denial of the victims’ claim that they walk together for their own security.

By calling on the public to ignore these rape allegations, KNH’s management has effectively silenced both present and future victims of rape. This silencing of victims fosters a rape culture that anticipates, tolerates and normalises sexual violence against women in both public and private spheres.

This statement by a Kenyan government parastatal is unacceptable because it shows the state’s lack of commitment towards addressing violence against women. A more appropriate response would be to unconditionally condemn any rape and to unequivocally launch rape investigations.

Ruth Nekura is a human rights lawyer from Kenya pursuing her PhD at the Public Law Department, University of Cape Town.
Esther Kimani is a women’s rights activist, sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate and psychologist based in Nairobi.
Milanoi Koiyiet is a human rights lawyer consulting on rights of women, children and persons with disabilities.

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