Call For Volunteers to help with Rape Crisis

If haven’t already visited Sara Nics’ quality site please take the opportunity to do so now. Here she interviews Sam Thenya, CEO of the Nairobi Women’s Hospital which has been treating women and children following the sharp increase in sexual violence. He is calling for volunteers who can help with counselling and medical volunteer work at the camps that are being set up for women and children victims.

We’ve seen a lot of post-election violence. One of the most disheartening issues that we have been handling are gang rapes that are occurring in the areas where the skirmished are taking place. We are seeing women, girls, even boys sodomized in front of their families. People are breaking into their houses and gang raping these women and children. The women who have come to us are telling us that there are many other people who are unable to come to the hospital.

Currently, we have teamed up with the Kenya Red Cross and the Kenya Association of Psychologists to give psycho-social trauma counselling to these survivors who have been displaced.

The Red Cross is providing the food and all the other things that they need. St. John’s Ambulance is providing transport. We are providing counselling services.

We have set up camps within Nairobi. We have sent two people to rift valley to assess the situation and we will be setting up camps in Rift Valley and Western Province.

How many people do you have in your hospital?

Yesterday we saw at least nine survivors of gang rapes. We are providing emergency care and then we send them back, unfortunately, to the camps. We are also following them up for counselling.

I don’t think we have anybody physically admitted. We only admit those who have severe unjuries that need hospitalization. And, of course, children. They get severe injuries and they need to be reconstructed. It’s only in extreme cases, because we don’t want to crowd the hospital.

What are the patterns you are seeing in the people who are coming in?

They seem to be targeted, but I don’t want to give the details of who is targeting who, because I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. They are happening both during the day and during the night. These people are gang raping with impunity. They are not worried about anything. It’s really really bad out there.

What do you think needs to happen for that part of this conflict to ease?

The first thing, of course, the political crisis needs to be sorted out. And of course the violence has to stop. That is the only way we will be able to stop the gang rapes. It is very clear that the gang rapes are occurring because of the lawlessness that is already existing on the ground.

What are some of the long-term impacts that you would expect in communities and for individual women and children from this kind of violence?

When we went down to provide this psycho-social support, we discovered that women and even men who have been displaced, some of them are HIV-positive. They don’t have their anti-retoviral drugs.

We also discovered that in the places where they are camping, in showground and other places, there are no formal structures. The next thing you are going to find, there is also rape and a lot of HIV-transmission amongst those who are displaced.

The gains made in the country in terms of HIV control is going to be lost. The other thing we are going to have is resistance, because these people are discontinuing their treatment. So you are going to have resistance to anti-retroviral drugs. It’s a big problem.

Taking these people back to their homes later and resettling them is going to be a big, big problem. One of the things that they have told us on the ground, is that they are very, very worried. The hatred, they don’t know how to handle it.

We have gone into teaching them about conflict resolution. They are very bitter. They need to know how to live harmoniously with their neighbors, even after all they have witnessed. It’s going to be a big big problem but we are doing the best we can do in the given circumstances.

Who are you calling on to help you with your work right now?

We are calling on the media to let people know where we have set up camps to help. That’s an immediate need. We are also calling upon anywhere which has counselors, medical personnel who can volunteer, especially to go outside Nairobi for at least a week. We are working closely with the Red Cross. Any help that can also go to the Red Cross, we’d be very happy.

1 Response to “Call For Volunteers to help with Rape Crisis”

  1. 1 Huda ali January 27, 2008 at 7:09 am

    To Whom it may concern,

    My name is huda ali and am currently working in somalia, i would like to offer my help in anyway i can but i will be back in Nairobi in a months time. I have had some experiance in councelling rape victims as i have had experiance in these cases before.

    Regards Huda Ali

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