Thursday, July 8, 2010

LACE that's not so pretty

AMPATH has started a legal aid clinic (LACE) for AMPATH patients and others in the community who have been sexually assaulted.

There are two law students currently staying at IU house. One of them is in Lisa's class but in the other section and the other is a graduate student. It's a really great program because so many of the AMPATH patients who have been cut off from their community because of the stigma of HIV that is still rampant throughout Kenya, leaving them with children to care for and no means. LACE assists with property issues as well.

The two law students went to court this week and brought back a heart-wrenching, awful, shocking story. Please proceed reading at your own risk. The names are fictional and there is no happy ending.

Sometime in March, Mrs. Jones decided to go shopping at a popular local store in a small town outside of Eldoret. It was approximately 8:30 PM. Shortly after entering the store, the two wealthy store owners locked the door behind her and proceeded to beat and rape her. They then tore their own clothes, and called the police (whom we're sure they bribed) to take the woman away claiming that she attempted to rape two grown men, who each weighed more than doubled her size.

As she was unconscious, the police took to her to the hospital where she was examined. The doctor's report from when she presented to the hospital documented that she was both raped and beaten. She was still unconscious at the time that she arrived at the hospital.

Near midnight that night she was arrested and thrown into jail with bail set at 10,000 Ksh ($120). The charge - false allegation of rape. Unable to post bail, she stayed in jail for a month. Her family did not know that she was in jail for two weeks, and may have assumed that she was killed or kidnapped.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when she was put on trial. Mrs. Jones had to appear in court, sit in the defendant's box and listen to her attackers detail a completely factious story of how she attempted to rape them. Their explanation why she would want to rape two grown men - because she owed them money. They also explained that they closed the door to the shop to protect Mrs. Jones from the angry crowd outside. A crowd that was angry because she is "known for raping men".

We won't know the outcome of the case for some time as the magistrate does not decide the case until September.

The only good part of the story is that the law students think she will be acquitted, and because she was part of the LACE program she will not have further fees to pay. This charade has accomplished it's purpose; Mrs. Jones has understandably become disillusioned with the system and will not be pursuing rape charges against the men.

There is no recourse against the prosecutor for bringing such an obviously phony charge.

Please take this opportunity to reflect on the great country that we live in, for no other luck than where we were born.

Oh yeah and if you're moved - read more about LACE and make a donation - http://www.iukenya.org/lace.html

1 comment:

Sana said...

What a sad story, Marc. Yes, we are so blessed to live in a country where freedom lives. Our justice system needs improvement in so many areas, however, for the most part, it's not too bad.

I hope you are still enjoying your stay. I know you miss Lisa and home, but you are making such a difference, and time will fly by.

Thank you so much for sharing such touching stories. I hope the end result is that she is acquited. Take care and know that you are missed around here.