Kenya: Outcry grows after rape suspects are ordered to cut grass as punishment

Story highlights

  • The 16-year-old girl was raped on her way from a funeral, rights groups say
  • She was then dumped in a pit latrine, a newspaper says
  • Police order the alleged attackers to mow the lawn of a police station as punishment
  • The teenager is confined to a wheelchair since the attack
Outraged Kenyans are demanding justice for a teenage girl who was allegedly gang-raped, dumped in a sewage ditch, and left for dead.
Her alleged attackers were ordered to cut grass at the police station as punishment, then later freed, local rights groups said.
The 16-year-old was walking home from her grandfather's funeral in Busia town when the attack occurred.
After the alleged rape, the six men reportedly buried her in the 20-foot latrine. Neighbors heard her cries for help hours later and pulled her out, bloody and by then unconscious, according to Kenya's Daily Nation, which broke the story.
She identified three of her attackers, and neighbors hauled them off to the local police station, the paper said.
Police ordered the suspects to cut grass in the yard, then released them shortly after, according to the newspaper, which is spearheading a fund-raiser to help meet the medical bills for the teen, who's been nicknamed Liz.
Word of the attack, which occurred weeks ago, got out this month. An outcry ensued on social media, with Kenyans expressing their dismay using the hashtags #JusticeforLiz and #StandwithLiz. They are demanding the arrest of the suspects and the officers who ordered them to cut grass.
"This is yet another example of blatant impunity and repeated noncompliance by the police and other government authorities. Rape and other gender crimes have consistently been treated as lesser crimes -- this is unacceptable," Kenya's Coalition on Violence Against Women said in a statement.
The girl has had to use a wheelchair since the attack, according to the Daily Nation newspaper. She's also suffering from a condition that makes her unable to control her bowels as a result of the rape.
CNN does not name victims of sexual assault.
The global campaigning network Avaaz has launched an online petition demanding justice. It had more than 400,000 signatures by Saturday.
On Twitter Saturday, Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo thanked Kenyans for bringing the case to light.
He said in a tweet that suspects have been arraigned in court and are awaiting a hearing. But that tweet has since been taken down. It's unclear how many arrests were made.
Neither Kimaiyo nor the Kenyan police spokeswoman responded to CNN's repeated calls for comment.
The national gender and equality chairwoman called on authorities to ensure the matter is resolved.
"Justice delayed is justice denied," Winfred Lichuma said in a statement last week.
Local rights groups have teamed up to demand justice in the case.
At least 32% of Kenyan girls younger than 18 experience some form of sexual violence, according to a report released last year by the government and the United Nations.
The numbers may be higher because a lot of rapes go unreported for fear of stigma.