SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE AND GENDER BASED VIOLENCE (GBV)
What is sexual violence, sexual assault and rape?
There are many different types of sexual assault and rape. They should all be taken very seriously. Below, you can find different types of sexual violence, sexual assault and rape:
Rape: Forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration maybe by a body part or an object. Rape victims may be forced through threats or physical means.In about 8 out of 10 rapes, perpetrators don’t use any weapon other than physical force.Anyone may be a victim of rape: Women or men, adults or children, straight or gay.
Acquaintance rape: Rape imposed by someone that the victim knows, e.g. a friend,date, acquaintance etc
Stranger Rape: Occurs when there has been no prior contact between a perpetrator and survivor. There are 3 major categories:
- Blitz sexual assault: The perpetrator rapidly and brutally assaults the victim with no prior contact. Blitz assaults usually occur at night in a public place.
- Contact sexual assault: The suspect contacts the victim and tries to gain her or his trust and confidence before assaulting her or him. Contact perpetrators pick their victims in bars or lure them into their cars. In general, the perpetrator tries to coerce the victim into sexual intercourse.
Child sexual abuse: Sexual contact by force, trickery, or bribery where there is an imbalance in age, size, power, or knowledge.
Dating and domestic violence: Any act, attempt, or threat of force by a family member or intimate partner against another family member. Dating and domestic violence occurs in all
socioeconomic, educational, racial, and age groups. Issues of power and control are at the heart of family violence. The perpetrator uses acts of violence and a series of behaviours to gain power and control.
Drug facilitated assault: When drugs or alcohol compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activity. Perpetrators use drugs and alcohol to minimize the victim’s ability to resist and their memories of the assault. Alcohol remains the most commonly used substance in sexual crimes. However, perpetrators use other substances, too, including: Rohypnol, GHB, GBL, etc.
Hate Crime: The victimization of an individual based on that individual’s race, religion, national origin, ethnic identification, gender, or sexual orientation. Any targeted group can
experience violence, rape, and sexual assault as a form of hate crime.
Incest: Sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents/children, brothers/sisters uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent. Many experts consider incest to be a particularly damaging form of sexual abuse. This is because individuals whom the victim trusts and depends on are the perpetrators. In addition, there is often a lack of familial support. There is even sometimes pressure to keep silent from family members because they fear the family will disintegrate if the truth comes out.
Male sexual assault: Male victims of sexual assault are an often forgotten population being unseen, neglected, and underserved.
Partner rape: sexual acts committed without a person’s consent and/or against a person’s will when the perpetrator is the individual’s current partner or previous partner (married or
not), or co-habitator. Many times, there is not any physical violence associated with sexual assault, but that doesn’t mean that it does not happen. Many survivors also experience
battering or severe physical violence along with sexual violence.
Sexual exploitation by a helping professional: Sexual contact of any kind between a helping professional (doctor, therapist, teacher, priest, professor, police officer, lawyer, etc.) and a client/patient.
Sexual harassment: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. With harassment, submission to or rejection of
such conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s work or school performance. It also creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or school environment.
Hostile environment: When unwelcome, severe and persistent sexual conduct on the part of a perpetrator creates an uncomfortable and hostile environment (e.g. jokes,
lewd postures, leering, inappropriate touching, rape, etc.). This type of harassment constitutes up to 95% of all sexual harassment cases.
Quid pro quo: When a perpetrator makes conditions of employment contingent on the victim providing sexual favours.
Stalking: Occurs when an individual follows a pattern of behaviour that leaves someone else feeling afraid, nervous, harassed, or in danger. This presents itself as unwanted contact like calling or texting repeatedly or following the victim around and lurking on them
I have been raped. What should I do?
Rape is a traumatising experience, and it is never the victim’s fault. Being a victim of rape has nothing to do with what someone was wearing or where they were. If one is a victim of rape in Kenya, there are laws to ensure that the victim gets justice for the injustice perpetrated upon him/her by the perpetrator. However, without taking proper steps after the ordeal, the victim may end up losing the case due to lack of evidence or poor defence on the side of the prosecution.
So what does one do?
Do not take a bath or change clothes as these two actions may alter the evidence that the police may use for prosecution purposes.
Report the incident to a police station immediately. At the police station, you will be given a form that should be filled by a qualified medical officer.
Report to the nearest health facility. While it may be very difficult, it is important to be open about the ordeal. At the health facility one is entitled to:
- A full physical exam including the genito-anal area with a high vaginal swab taken
- Immediate medical attention to any wounds sustained
- Post exposure prophylaxis for HIV
- Prophylaxis against other sexually transmitted infections
- Emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy
- Hepatitis B virus vaccination
- Psychosocial support
All the above services are FREE of charge. Most of the interventions listed above have a time limit of efficacy, hence reporting early is key. Optimally, a rape is reported immediately after when the physical exam might result in forensic evidence.
Remember to reach out to family and friends for support. Do not suffer alone
Hotline for gender based violence, sexual assault and rape
If you are a victim of gender based violence, sexual assault or rape, do not suffer alone. You can contact Gender-based Violence Recovery Center (GVRC), which is a non-profit, non-partisan; charitable trust of the Nairobi Women’s Hospital (NWH). NWH a private institution that specialises in obstetrics and gynaecology services and seeks to provide holistic care to women and their families, including emotional, physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
Contact Gender based Violence Revovery Center:
Emergency cases, hotline: +254709667000 or +254719638006
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS INCLUDING HIV/AIDS
What are the most common STIs?
- Hepatitis B and C
How are they transmitted?
- Many STIs spread via body fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluids and blood. Some can also spread through mucous membranes.
- STIs are mainly spread through sexual intercourse – both oral, anal and vaginal. However, they can also be spread through other means such as mother-child during childbirth or sharing of razors, needles etc..
How do I prevent getting a STI?
- A way to avoid getting a STI is through abstinence.
- Consistent condom use is also effective in prevention.
- Preventive measures such as vaccination (HPV) and proper hygiene can help prevent STIs acquired from non-sexual means e.g. candidiasis.
I think I have a STI – how can I be sure?
- Be aware that you can have a STI without having any symptoms. Therefore, it is important to get tested at a health clinic!
- Most government health facilities offer screening services for STIs such as Syphilis and Gonorrhea either upon the patients request, or as a service provider initiated task.
- In many pharmacies you can by a HIV self-test that allows you to test yourself at home.
To read more about HIV and how to get tested.Click here
I have an STI – what now?
- If you find that you have an STI, you need to get treatment. See a professional at any health facility.
- Treatment will be initiated at any health facility once an STI is detected and confirmed. Since treatment for most STIs involves use of antibiotics, it is important to acquire a prescription from a clinician so as to ensure you get the correct medication and at the right doses.
What is HIV/AIDS?
- HIV is the virus that causes the disease AIDS. HIV targets the human immune system which normally protects us from illness.
- AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV when, simplified, the immune system can no longer stop infections.
- HIV/AIDS has been a global crisis (pandemic) for decades now. It has continued to destabilize economies and development, without sparing the social progress either.
- It mainly affects people in their prime ages, main casualties being people of productive ages between 15-60 years.
- Teenagers directly suffer as the affected or the infected.
- In Kenya, it has been an epidemic since mid-1980s, killing thousands of people.
- Currently, the prevalence stands at 6% with almost 100,000 new infections reported annually, mainly among the youth and teenagers.
How is HIV transmitted?
- The virus can be congenitally transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Though, it is important to notice that infected mothers can still conceive and give birth to healthy babies if they receive the proper medical guidance and treatment.
- It can also be acquired through contact with infected body fluids such as blood, semen, and vaginal fluids occurring through unprotected sexual intercourse.
- Transmission can also happen though sharing of piercing instruments and transfusion of contaminated blood products among others.
Who is at risk?
- People who engage in unprotected sex. Risk increases with the number of unprotected
- Those who share sharp and piercing instruments such as injection needles, tattoo needles and razors.
- Alcohol and drug users. This greatly impairs judgment and can lead one to risky sexual behaviour such as unprotected sex.
- STI infected people. STIs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis affect vaginal or penile tissue making it easier for HIV penetration.
- Children born of infected mothers. Some get infected during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
- Patients receiving poorly screened blood components.
- Health workers working with sharp instruments and blood components.
- Genetically HIV susceptible individuals.
Those engaging in cross-generational sex and commercial sex.
Can the risk be minimized?
Yes, the risk of contracting HIV is reduced through the following methods:
- Sexual behaviour change such as getting tested periodically and zero tolerance to unsafe sex.
- Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). This is a radical intervention and should be considered carefully.
- Use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) before contact with infection.
- Use of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) after coming into contact with infection.
What are the common myths and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS?
- Getting HIV/ AIDS infection is as good as a dead sentence.
- FACT: HIV/AIDS is an infection whose definite cure is yet to be formulated. However, there are drugs (antiretroviral drugs-ARVs) available freely at various government hospitals which slow disease progression and give the infected persons a longer and fully productive life.
- HIV can be spread through contact such as hugging, sharing toilet, insect bites and handshakes.
- FACT: HIV is spread through exchange of body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. It is however not found in fluids such as sweat and saliva. Contact with sweat and saliva won’t lead to transmission unless it contaminates an open wound. Also, the virus can’t survive in insects.
- You can get HIV/AIDS by staying close to an infected person.
- FACT: HIV is only spread through body fluids. It is not airborne. People who are infected with HIV need the support from their society and protection against discrimination and stigma in order to live their daily lives normally and productively.
- Some herbalists cure HIV/AIDS.
- FACT: Currently there is no proven cure to the disease.
- I can see if someone is infected.
- FACT: Some people may look healthy yet they are infected, and some people may look sickly yet they are healthy. It requires a medical test to confirm presence of the infection.
- HIV is only acquired through risky sexual behaviour and promiscuity.
- FACT: Despite sexual route being most common in infection, others get infected through contaminated piercing tools, infected blood among others. Infection can take place even during first sexual encounter.
I think I have HIV/AIDS – how can I be sure?
- HIV/AIDS testing can be done at any health facility. Self testing kits are also available in some chemists. It is a good practise to screen for the virus regularly.
- It is highly advised to seek testing in case of:
- A partner has tested positive for the virus
- After engaging in risky sexual behaviour such as multiple partners, unprotected sex
Perhaps we should explain som potential symptoms?
I have HIV – what now?
There is not yet a definite cure that can make HIV go away but there are drugs (antiretroviral drugs-ARVs) available freely at various government hospitals which slow disease progression, remove symptoms and give the infected persons a longer fully productive life.
People living with HIV (PLHIV)
As a special group, their rights are protected by law through the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act (2006). However, they face a lot of stigma associated with myths surrounding the disease. They are often isolated, judged and even denied access to basic services. By sharing knowledge, we help end stigma and enable them live a full healthy and productive life. It is their role too to seek regular medical care, exercise and maintain a good nutrition for longer positive life.