London, 13 February 2015
On 10 January 2015, a member of the Migori County Assembly in Kenya was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for defiling (raping) a 13 year old girl. The Court found that Mr Lukas Masa Hura had abused the girl in May 2014, in a location within the County of which he was then a representative. The case is one of many examples of sexual abuse of women and girls that the Equal Rights Trust is seeking to address through its Comic Relief-funded Legal Assistance Scheme Project in Kenya. The victim in the case was supported by the community based organisation (CBO) Mira Residents Association, one of a number of CBOs across Kenya supported by the Equal Rights Trust and our partner, the Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA Kenya) under the project.
Despite a significant improvement in the rights afforded to women through the adoption of a new Constitution in August 2010, women in Kenya remain subject to serious disadvantage and discrimination in all spheres of life. Levels of gender-based violence and other harmful cultural practices remain high despite significant efforts by civil society and other groups and individuals, as well as some efforts by the government, to address the situation. Women also experience inequality of access and outcomes in healthcare, employment and education, and are exposed to landlessness and poverty more often than men.
The Equal Rights Trust's project seeks to realise the gender equality rights enshrined in the 2010 Constitution by assisting women to bring cases on gender violence and other forms of discrimination. It does so by enabling Kenyan women to secure legal remedies and enhanced protection from discrimination through free legal aid services at the community level. Services are provided by paralegals working in over 40 CBOs and focus on three main areas in which women experience discrimination: inheritance of land and succession; gender-based violence; and access to education. Cases that cannot be handled by CBOs are referred to a team of pro-bono lawyers, led by FIDA Kenya’s in-house legal team. Both the CBOs and the pro-bono lawyers are supported by FIDA Kenya and the Equal Rights Trust and have received training as well as institutional and financial support from the Trust.
The Trust welcomes this latest court victory and the strong message it sends against sexual violence. We continue to work with Mira Residents Association and FIDA Kenya to ensure that the girl in question, and other women and girls who are the victims of violent crimes, receive the support they need. We urge the government of Kenya to continue working towards reducing violence against women. We extend our thanks to Mira Residents Association and FIDA Kenya for their tireless efforts to obtain access to justice for women and to Comic Relief for their ongoing support of this work.
As is common in the Kenyan criminal system, a written judgment for this sentencing decision is not available.
To read more about the situation of women in Kenya in our 2010 report addressing discrimination and inequality in the country, please click here.