650 women accuse British soldiers of rape

Kenya: 650 women accuse British soldiers of rape

Osborn, Corrie


After decades of suffering in silent fear, 650 Kenyan women from the Masai and Samburu tribes of central Kenya have bravely stepped forward with their allegations that soldiers of the United Kingdom Army raped them during a 35-year period. Approximately 3,000 U.K. soldiers report to training camps in Kenya each year.

According to a report published in July by Amnesty International, U.K. army officials in Kenya may have been aware of some rape allegations as early as 1977. Amnesty International has uncovered numerous documents that indicate that many of the rapes were reported to Kenyan police or local chiefs immediately after they occurred, with some cases even showing the chiefs’ appeals to U.K. army officials. Nonetheless, in over 30 years neither U.K. nor Kenyan authorities has led an investigation into the alleged sexual assaults.

The Amnesty report also highlights the tremendous physical, psychological and economic repercussions many of the victims have experienced since being raped. Many of the victims, half of whom report being gang raped, suffered serious physical trauma for which they did not receive medical attention because of the social stigma attached to rape. If the rape became public knowledge, then those women who were not yet married could never be married, and those who were married might be abandoned by their husbands.

There are close to 50 documented cases of rape victims who gave birth to mix-raced babies. These children are shunned from Masai and Samburu society and destined to endure years of intense discrimination.

In response to the desperate situation many of the victims face, Rebecca Samaria, a women’s rights activist from Archers Post, started an independent village where 25 abandoned women now live with their children. Together the women have been able to support themselves by selling beaded jewelry and running a campsite and cultural center for tourists.

This summer, the women have won the legal aid needed to sue the British Ministry of Defense in a U.K. court. The women are being represented by Martyn Day, a British solicitor who recently won a battle against the Ministry of Defense on behalf of 230 residents of the Dol Dol region who were injured by live munitions left by the U.K. army. The settlement was for $7.4 million.

-info from: Decades of Impunity report by Amnesty International, Womens Enews 8/03/03

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