We, the undersigned, concerned citizens, women’s organizations’, activists and progressive groups , condemn in the strongest terms possible the alleged sexual violence and indecent act against the body and person of Shailja Patel. This alleged crime must be investigated forthwith and appropriate charges brought against the alleged perpetrator who is assumed innocent until proved guilty in a court of law.

The offence of sexual violence is a traumatizing occurrence that not only violates an individuals’ personal sovereignty but rubbishes human rights. It is a grave human rights violation against our Constitution, international, regional and national laws. Groping, and squeezing another’s breasts and or buttocks without their consent constitute sexual violence and are indeed punishable under our laws.

Our demands for justice are strengthened by our knowledge that countless others share our anger. Sexual violence is not a women’s issue but a political one that concerns every citizen. We demand that justice is not only done but seen to be done in this and all similar cases .

The alleged assault of Patel is not isolated. Sexual violence occurs with frightening frequency in this country. Women and girls, young and old, even women with special needs, in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intesex community and sex workers are targeted with impunity. Complaints of sexual assault and violence these victims file at the police stations are more often than not disregarded. Cases of rape, for example, have a prosecution rate as low as five per cent. This provides perpetrators impunity. The “Justice for Liz case is only one of many demonstrating systematic failures of the criminal justice system in responding to sexual violence.

Silent witnesses to forms of sexual assault such as squeezing, leering, groping, passing misogynist comments, stalking and whistling, are also responsible to increased sexual violence. We condemn the silence around and tolerance of sexual violence that, in effect, normalizes it.

We, the undersigned, therefore demand the following:
That the complaint filed by Patel at the Spring Valley Police Station , Nairobi under O.B no 25 / 25/9/2014 be investigated forthwith.

That appropriate charges be brought against the alleged perpetrator.

That all men and women of goodwill speak out against all forms of violence against women, particularly sexual violence.

That the Inspector General submit an account of all pending gender based violence particularly sexual violence cases, reasons for delays in investigating the same as well as actions taken by his office to remedy investigative failures.
That the Director of Public Prosecutions submit an account of all cases of gender based violence particularly sexual violence that have not been prosecuted, reasons why they have not been prosecuted and actions he has taken to avert the travesty of justice by such non-prosecutions.

That the Judiciary establish and operationalise special courts for all crimes of sexual violence as a priority with a target for sentencing in successful prosecutions within six months from the date of reporting of these crimes.

Endorsed by the following groups and individuals:
Centre for Rights Education and Awareness ( CREAW)
The Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW)
The Federation of Women Lawyers ( FIDA)
Kimbilio Trust
Co- Convenors of the Africa Unite Campaign to End Violence against Women
The Kenyan Ambassodor, Africa Unite Campaign
Betty Murungi, Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate
Nyambura Githongo
Muthoni Garland
Wambui Mwangi
Kenne Mwikia
Nicholas Ochiel
Kerubo Abuya
L. Muthoni Wanyeki
Zarina Patel
Zahid Patel
George Mwai- Fahamu


Date: Thursday September 25

Contact: Ann Njogu, Chair, CREAW, Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness for Women
Mobile: 0722 768 381

On Saturday September 20th, Standard Group journalist and PEN Kenya Secretary Tony Mochama is alleged to have committed an indecent act upon the person of poet and activist Shailja Patel, at a gathering in the home of Professor Wambui Mwangi in Spring Valley, Nairobi.

Today at noon, Ms. Patel filed a police report at Spring Valley Police Station. She was accompanied by her lawyer Ann Njogu, Chair of CREAW (Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness for Women), High Court Advocate Betty Kaari Murungi, Joan Nyanyuki, Executive Director of COVAW (Coalition On Violence Against Women), representatives from FIDA (International Federation of Women Lawyers), Professor Mwangi, and friends and supporters, including Muthoni Garland, founder and director of the Storymoja Hay Festival.

Ms. Patel had previously stated that she would seek restorative community justice rather than engaging the judicial system. Following consultation with civil society colleagues and consideration of all parties involved, she decided to file a police report for the following reasons.

1) To facilitate the need for corroboration, substantiation, triangulation.

2) To support the decades of work by Kenyan women’s movements to improve reporting procedures for SGBV survivors.

4) To move forward policy and practice on sexual violence in public life on the basis of evidence.

5) “The women’s movement has fought hard and long for sexual violence to be treated like the crime that it is. We must uphold that struggle by being as rigorous as possible when we make our claims and the demands thereof.” – Muthoni Wanyeki, Regional Director, Amnesty International

Ms. Patel said:

“Each time a man sexually harasses or assaults a woman with no consequences, he is emboldened to repeat and escalate that behaviour. It becomes a pattern. Sexual predators are not born; they are the product of patriarchies and rape cultures that teach men they are entitled to the bodies of all women.

“When a man invades a woman’s body space without her invitation, touches, grabs and gropes her without her consent, he violates her sovereignty of person. He evicts her from her own body. Our bodies are our first homes. If we are not safe in our bodies, we are always homeless.

“Let us stand with all victims and survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Let us create a society where sexual violence is unknown and unimaginable.”