MOSES OKINYI: An expert witness told Kenya’s High Court that most victims of sexual violence undergo Post-Traumatic Disorder (PTSD) which is a psychological injury that leads to life long suffering. The expert witness was testifying in a case filed on 20th February 2013, by eight survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) experienced during the 2007/08 Post Election Violence, together with four Civil Society Organizations (COVAW, ICJ-Kenya, Physicians for Human Rights and IMLU).The petition was successfully filed as a Public Interest Litigation Case against the Government of Kenya. The petitioners sued the government of Kenya for failing to prevent and protect them from sexual violence during post-election violence period and further to that, failing to investigate and prosecute claims of SGBV and provide reparations for their suffering.
The expert witness who is currently The Head of the Gender Based Violence Department in Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) said that Kenyatta National Hospital appointed her and two other experts: a psychiatrist and psychologist experienced in trauma and GBV to conduct a psycho-assessment on the eight petitioners. The witness participated in the Mau Mau Veterans compensation case filed against Britain and as an expert witness in Waki Commission. Her team conducted psycho assessment on the petitioners where they assessed if the victims were suffering any psychological problems, nature of their injuries and the impact that these injuries had in their lives.
She also revealed that the petitioners are still undergoing counselling in the department and will be on long term psychological treatment for PTSD amongst other illnesses and psychosocial disorders. She suggested that the affected families, children included needed counselling and that they should be compensated as they cannot continue living normally as a result of the impact the violence had on them. The witness also expressed concerns over the capacity of KNH to handle SGBV cases were they to occur in large numbers. She said that the facility suffers lack of testing and evidence collection kits, trained medical personnel especially those experienced in SGBV, lacks in equipment and medication.
The court make a site visit to Kenyatta National Hospital and Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday 17th March 2017 to assess the condition of the Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre at KNH and the condition the hospitals are in and if the government has put in proper measures to ensure the country has the capacity to handle SGBV cases close to ten years after PEV happened.