This post is an update to “A Long Fight Ahead: 160 Girls Demand Justice in Kenya” by Melissa Reiter which appeared on the Shameless blog on March 11, 2013.
In a landmark ruling, 240 young women in Kenya who were sexually assaulted as minors have won a constitutional claim against the Kenyan government. The Equality Effect, a Toronto-based charity which aims to achieve justice for women and girls through law and policy reform, launched the case on October 11, 2012 on behalf of these young women whose complaints of sexual assault were not investigated by Kenyan police. The Kenya High Court agreed with the young women - the police had violated their human rights and created an atmosphere of impunity for perpetrators by failing to investigate their claims. The Court found the police “directly responsible” for the harm suffered by the young women and ordered the police to enforce laws against sexual assault. The Kenyan government was given two weeks to appeal the decision, but the appeal period lapsed without action and the case has officially been won!
This successful case is part of their “160 Girls” project, a legal initiative to seek justice and protect girls and young women from sexual assault. The Kenyan High Court decision represents a significant milestone in the effort to achieve progress. In the words of Fiona Sampson, Executive Director of the Equality Effect, “The ‘160 Girls’ decision provides a foundational block upon which future equality claims can be built.” The Equality Effect plans to expand the 160 Girls project to Ghana and Malawi, and has received requests from numerous other countries to initiate similar legal efforts.
To read the Court’s decision please click here.
To learn more about The Equality Effect’s work or to donate please click here.
Melissa Reiter is a corporate/commercial lawyer at Koskie Minsky LLP in Toronto. Her typical day involves anything from working with start-ups to advising some of Canada’s largest pension funds on a wide range of complex commercial and investment matters. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaReiter.