“Reckless rape” comment causes public offence in Kenya


A top Kenyan university caused widespread public offence accusing a gang-raped student of “recklessness” for walking back to campus after a night out.

The University of Nairobi’s security office sent a memo regarding robbery and rape reports. “In three incidents reported since last year, a clear case of recklessness on the part of the female student can be drawn,” it said.

The memo highlighted a case when it said a female student “entertained herself in various joints around the city and decided to walk all alone (drunk)” when her bag was snatched and three men raped her”.

Personalities including former presidential candidate Martha Karua and activist and rape survivor Adelle Onyango, founder of “No Means No”, tweeted disgust at the memo.

“A rape survivor should never be blamed. That is transferring the responsibility of crime to a survivor of crime,” Wairimu Munyinyi Wahome, executive director of the Coalition on Violence Against Women, told Reuters.

Nearly 5 500 people signed up in a day to an online petition asking the university to see rapists as the “true antagonists”.

The outrage brought an apology from the university.

“The memo was insensitive and does not represent the corporate values and image of University of Nairobi,” vice chancellor Stephen Kiama said in an online note.

Latest Kenyan government data show 921 rapes reported in 2018, but experts say many assaults go unreported.

Violent crimes against women frequently make front pages, with women attacked, mutilated or killed. Some women and girls report being raped by police when they sought help, according to a watchdog.

Police said previously any officers caught committing crimes were arrested.