“The Court’s “160 Girls” decision is a glorious achievement - the legal system has worked and the girls know now what justice feels like; this is an invaluable accomplishment.” Mercy Chidi, the Founder and Director of the Brenda Boone Tumaini Girls’ Rescue Centre, Meru, Kenya.
The 160 Girls from Meru, Kenya have made legal history. They have won their Constitutional claim against the Kenyan government and have established that the police failure to enforce existing defilement laws, and the police failure to protect them from defilement, is a violation of domestic, regional and international human rights law. They have achieved access to justice for themselves, and legal protection from rape for all 10,000,000 girls in Kenya. The oral decision from the Judge was released on 27 May.
Every 30 minutes a girl/woman in Kenya is raped. The average age of girls targeted for rape is 10 years old and girls as young as 3 months are raped, often by men who believe that sex with a virgin will cure their own HIV/AIDS.
This was made possible with the financial, advisory and moral support of all the members of the equality effect community. This action will ensure that rapists are held accountable for this violence and that police enforce existing laws to protect girls in Kenya from rape.
This ruling is the result of two and half years of legal research, gathering evidence, building networks and fundraising to make it possible. The decision by Judge Makau of the Kenya High Court is well reasoned, and well informed by submissions that were a product of the equality effect team. Makau J.A. listened to the girls’ stories of violence and discrimination, and responded to them. The Court found: “Police unlawfully, inexcusably and unjustifiably neglected, omitted and/or otherwise failed to conduct prompt, effective, proper and professional investigations to the said complaints. That failure caused grave harm to the petitioners and also created a climate of impunity for defilement as perpetrators were let free.”
Muthomi Thiankolu, Counsel for the girls and Ripples International, said “The decision holds the police accountable for their treatment of defilement victims - treatment that often amounts to re-victimization of the girls. The Court’s judgment breathes life into the Kenyan Constitution; the police must now enforce the laws that protect girls from rape or they will be in contempt of Court and in violation of the Constitution.”
Fiona Sampson, the Executive Director for the equality effect, says that “The “160 Girls” decision is a victory for the 160 Girls, the girls of Kenya, and all girls around the world. The Court’s ruling recognises that girls are persons, not property. The “160 Girls” decision provides a foundational block upon which future equality claims can be built.”