In one of the Kenyan communities where incest of rampant, in case a survivor of rape conceives, she is considered to have breached the stipulated norms.
This in turn means that her continued stay within the community is considered to be a taboo. This is so because the survivor is perceived to have annoyed the traditional gods who might pour their wrath on the entire clan.
The situation becomes even more complex when there is a pregnancy involved such that, a child who is born out of an incestuous relationship is deemed to be an omen.
Pregnancy and rape: what next in terms of justice?
In the event of a pregnancy as a result of an incestuous relationship, it is not just the perpetrator of the rape who is punished but the survivor too.
In one of the Kenyan communities, this is what happens:
- The survivor is not allowed to abort the child whilst still in the village as it is wrong for her to spill blood from her pregnancy within the compound
- In case the survivor agrees to carry the baby to term; she is required to abandon the baby at the hospital without breastfeeding it, or allow some older women to dump the baby in a bush; or in some worse scenarios ,she is required to starve the baby to death
- Both the survivor and the perpetrator are excommunicated from the community, if they choose not to separate from each other.
Role of administrative structure in handling rape and pregnancy
It is sad to note that even the local administration that is required to uphold the rule of law at the village level, has failed it discharging this mandate
Chiefs have been found to encourage families to settle cases of pregnancy as a result of rape using local norms and not the constitutional provisions.
There are some chiefs who even call upon families concerned to settle such cases of rape out of court by paying fines. The fine is usually higher in case of a pregnancy.
According to the prevailing cultural practices in the event of a pregnancy arising from rape, the survivor is punished in the same measure as the perpetrator.
However, the survivor of sexual violence, who in most cases is a woman is affected most as she has to bear of the stigma of having experienced a rape ,and more so conceiving as a result.
What next: Rape and pregnancy
There is however hope for women or girls out there who have been raped. Most public health facilities are adequately stocked with family planning pills that can be used as prophylaxis against pregnancy.
For those who are already pregnant as a result of the rape, there are several children’s homes or offices of the children department that are willing to adopt the child.
So do not despair as there is life after a rape incident.