Over 1 million people have signed a petition calling for the arrest and prosecution of three men who are accused of having gang-raped a 16-year-old girl while she was walking home in the Kenyan town of Busia. The attack reportedly occurred on June 26, and according to the petition, the perpetrators have thus far only been forced to cut grass at the police station as punishment.
The teenager, given the pseudonym “Liz” by news outlets, was walking home from her grandfather’s funeral when a group of six men attacked her and threw her body in a latrine, AlertNet reports. Neighbors reportedly heard her calls hours after the assault and pulled her from the pit.
The girl, whose spinal cord was broken in the attack, was able to identify three of the perpetrators, and neighbors dragged the men to the local police station, CNN writes. However, there they were only ordered to cut grass as punishment and were released shortly after. The men are said to have gone into hiding after a Kenyan newspaper broke the news of the assault.
According to Kenya’s Daily Nation, police have “dragged their feet in the case.”
“It is disturbing that no suspects have been arrested. The explanation that they have gone underground is, at the very least, preposterous and reeks of a calculated move to scuttle the case,” National Gender and Equality Commission chairperson Winfred Lichuma told the newspaper.
Avaaz’s petition addresses Kenya’s General Inspector of Police, calling for justice in the case of the teenager.
We call on you to deliver justice for Liz including the immediate arrest and prosecution of her rapists and full disciplinary action for the police officers who dismally failed to handle her case. By holding these police officers to account you will send a strong message to police everywhere that rape is not a misdemeanor, it is a serious crime, and if police do not uphold the law they will be held to account. We call on you to ensure Liz’s case is a turning point to end the war on girls.
A 2010 Unicef report revealed staggering statistics about the prevalence of sexual assault in Kenya. More than 30 percent of female respondents and nearly 20 percent of male respondents aged between 18 and 14 reported having experienced sexual violence during childhood. Fewer than 10 percent of the victims received professional help.