Barriers faced by sexually abused women in seeking legal justice in Kibera Slums

Author: Lutainulwa, Hellen Lutta

Awarding University: University of Nairobi, Kenya

Level : MA

Year: 2011

Holding Libraries: University of Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Library ;

Subject Terms: Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya ; Women ; Sex crimes ; Criminal justice ;

Pages: 69

Advisors: Isaac Nyamongo


This is a cross-sectional exploratory study of barriers faced by sexually abused women in accessing legal justice in Kibera slums. In this study, close assessments of the perceived and actual barriers to accessing legal justice were of keen interest. Convenience sampling was used to select 50 informants for in-depth interviews to this study drawn form Gatwekera, Laini Saba and Kisumu Ndogo villages in Kibera slums, six key informants were purposively drawn for this study to give insight into perceived and actual barriers to legal justice for the women survivors of sexual abuse in the slums. Finally, six women were purposively selected to give case narrative interviews based on their lived accounts after experiencing sexual abuse and going through the legal system. The results reveal that sexual violence is perceived by the subjects as act of raping, beating, pushing, and coerced sexual intercourse by someone they are quite intimate with or even a stranger given their experiences. This study also indicates that perceived barriers to seeking legal justice include a non-responsive police system riddled with corruption, gender insensitivity at the police posts, high costs of pursuing court cases and frequent dismissal of cases due to shoddy investigations and lack of evidence which dissuade survivors from pursuing legal justice. The perceived economic dependence and vulnerability of the women within the slum areas also act as a deterrent to seeking legal justice. Moreover, actual barriers to seeking legal justice are bound within cultures which include among others socialization of men in the society in which they wield more power relative to women, male dominance of the local dispute resolution mechanisms, stigma associated with abuse and consistent intimidation from male perpetrators. This study recommends the creation of gender-desk points in all police posts within Kibera slums to take care of the sensitive needs of women who have been sexually abused when they are reporting. The study also recommends that the police officers need to be trained on conducting sexual abuse investigations in collaboration with medical personnel to reduce instances of dismissal of cases due to insufficient evidence. Finally, the study recommends the need for heightened community sensitization of the community members on the contents of the Sexual Offences Act and how they can seize the opportunities provided in the same for accessing legal justice.