Jane keeps the well-worn sarong wrap neatly folded in her home in a Nairobi slum, a memento of a life-altering event a decade ago. She was draped with it after two policemen raped her and left her to rioters the officers had been deployed to stop during deadly post-election violence. “I lost consciousness after the first two civilians raped me. After that, I don’t know how many people did it,” she said. “All this while my 5-year-old daughter was hiding in an empty water container. She hid there when the policemen started breaking into houses and looting.” The 38-year-old tailor says she regained consciousness, with a broken hip and knee, when an elderly neighbour gently dressed her in the sarong. The neighbour “had also been raped by the police as her grown-up son watched and then they ordered him to clean his mother,” Jane said. “I can never forget her compassion.” Kenyans again face the threat of violence as the 8 August presidential election approaches, even as many who survived the deadliest period in the East African country’s history 10 years ago say they still haven’t found justice.
Experts have warned that the government’s failure to address old wounds risks passing them along for generations with the potential for cycles of violence.
More than 1,000 people died and 600,000 were evicted from their homes after what international observers called a flawed presidential election in 2007. Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto faced charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) after being accused of orchestrating the violence, but the court dropped the charges and cited unprecedented witness interference and bribery.