Gang raped at 9, defiled again at 14: The myth of justice for Dandora girl

Fourteen-year-old *Rosemary, not her real name, is weeping as we conduct this interview. Her voice remains steady, even as she recounts the second most horrific incident she has had to endure at her tender age.

On May 16, 2023, she and her friend who is also aged 14, were attacked and raped in the Dandora area, Nairobi county.

It all began at 6 pm on the fateful day, Rosemary and her friend who we will identify as Hannah, had been out running errands before going to Hannah’s aunt’s house to pick up some food. On their way home, they took a shortcut through the railway to get to their home nearby. Hannah’s younger sister aged 7, was also with the duo.

“That is when an elderly man stopped them.” Rosemary’s mother recounts.

“The man looked friendly, he greeted us and asked us which class we were in and how old we were. We told him we are both in class 8 and are aged 14. But we knew something was wrong when he asked us if we have hair on our private parts. We told him no, and he threatened to take us to the police station because we were lying. He grabbed both of our hands as well as the 7-year-old and dragged us through the bushes and to an unfinished home. We screamed but no one came for us.” Rosemary says

The unfinished structure sits in the middle of idle land behind the rail tracks. It has no lighting and is a distance away from other residents in the area, making it the perfect hideout for a predator.

We also attempted to access the area to get a glimpse of it, but we were chased away by goons who said it is private property and warned of consequences if we did not leave.

Rosemary says, the man then got aggressive.

“He pulled out a knife and forced us to lie down. My friend tried to run but he pulled her back and cut her hand with the knife. He forced us to lie down. We wanted to run away but we could not without the 7-year-old child who was watching everything unfold. He took off our clothes and raped us in turns. Afterwards, he ran away.” Rosemary adds.

The girls stumbled out of the home and found their way to the Kwa Maji police station to report the matter. It was then that they were rushed to the hospital to seek treatment.

“I received a call from someone telling me that something bad had happened to my daughter and she had been rushed to Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital. I got there and found her in bad shape. Her clothes were torn and bloody.” Rosemary’s mother says.

Rosemary says if she were to see the man again, she would be able to identify him.

“He was tall, dark and slim. His eyes appeared red and he wore black pants and a grey top. He does not have a beard.” Rosemary adds.

Police at Kwa Maji police station say they are investigating the incident; However, Rosemary’s mother says she has been frustrated by attempts to find out the progress of the case.

“That man should be looked for. In every place, there is in Dandora. It is more saddening when you run to those who should help you, but they do little. I have visited the police station every day to find out the progress of the case but each time, I am told the investigating officer is away.” Rosemary’s mother says.

But here is where the story gets more heartbreaking. This is not the first time Rosemary has been raped in Dandora. When she was 9 years old, she was on her way back home, after being sent away from school due to fees arrears. Three men who collect garbage in the area pounced on her. Two of the men raped her while one stood aside and kept watch. They later warned her that if she told anyone about the incident, they would kill her.

She ended up confiding in her mother, who as a measure, moved the family to another area of Dandora. But five years later, a cruel twist of history repeated itself, and Rosemary has been raped again, at the age of 14.

Documents from Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital confirming the incident, show that the two girls suffered severe tears on their private parts with one of the girls sustaining a knife cut to the hand. They were prescribed with post-rape prophylaxis medication and counselling sessions which they are supposed to attend twice a week. However, it has done little to ease the psychological scars.

“My daughter is very suicidal. She wants to swallow all the medication at once which she says will put her in a deep sleep that she will not want to wake up from. So I have to resort to hiding them from her and giving her one in the evening,” Rosemary’s mother says.

“But, sometimes, I fantasize about the two of us ending it all, because the problems are too much. I cannot even afford to put food on the table and I cannot move my girl out of Dandora because I have nowhere else to go. We are currently living with a friend.”

“I wonder, why this has to keep happening to me, and if will it happen again in the future. I ask myself if there is something wrong with me that attracts these things. Then I look at my mother who is always suffering, always doing odd jobs just to make ends meet and I get depressed.” says Rosemary.

If anyone has any information about the man matching the description given out by Rosemary, police are asking that they share the information.

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