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KENYA: Jane, "I told them I was HIV-positive ... they raped me anyway"

"They didn't believe me - they said I looked too healthy"
Nairobi, 27 February 2009 (IRIN) - Exactly one year ago, Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki and his erstwhile rival for the presidency, Raila Odinga, signed an agreement that created a government of national unity, ending two months of election-related violence during which more than 1,000 people were killed. The effects of that violence are still being felt.

Jane, a businesswoman in Kibera, the largest slum in the capital, Nairobi, was gang-raped by five men two days after the election. Life was already extremely hard - her husband had thrown her and their children out of their home nine years ago when she tested positive for HIV. Jane told IRIN/PlusNews that when she sits by herself and recalls the rape, she feels "tortured in the mind".

"It was about seven in the evening. The violence had already broken out and my neighbours had run away, but I was weak and had nowhere to run, so I thought if I locked up and stayed quiet, people would think the house was empty.

"The men came and I heard one of them saying, 'I think there is someone in this house.' They broke the door and came in. When I saw they were going to rape me, I told them I was HIV-positive.

"They didn't believe me - they said I looked too healthy. I even showed them my ARVs [antiretrovirals] but they raped me anyway; there were five of them.

"They raped me in front of my two youngest children, aged three and seven ... the kids cried out while it happened. My older children, 14 and 16 [years old], were at my sister's place in Kayole [another informal settlement in Nairobi], so at least they did not see it. Afterwards the younger ones kept asking me what happened, but I just told them to forget it, I am okay.

"Immediately after the rape I went to the hospital and got some treatment. I prayed that I had not contracted any STIs [sexually transmitted infections], and thankfully I have not tested positive for any.

"I felt very bad abdominal pain for about one year after the rape ... the men damaged me with their strength; I only started feeling normal again recently.

"I reported the case to the police and they said they would follow it, but they have not taken any action. I did not know the men who raped me, so it would be difficult to make a case, but I don't think the police have done much. They said they would come to my house to investigate but they never did. It was no use going to them.

"I am a member of a support group for women living with HIV and they have helped me by listening to me when I want to talk about the rape. My counsellor has also been very helpful.

"I am trying to carry on with life, selling smoked fish and working part-time as a home carer, but it's hard. Food and everything is so expensive, and yet I have to make sure my kids go to school.

"I was angry with the men who raped me - they wanted to show me that they were tough, and now they may be HIV-positive. I was angry with the police as well. Now I have learned to forget about all of them, but sometimes, when I sit alone, I am still tortured in the mind."

kr/kn/he

Theme(s): Gender Issues, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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