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Daily Nation : February 22nd 2014
SATURDAY NATION February 22, 2014 HOME AT LAST | Ministry officials relied on South Sudanese authorities to trace the woman’s movements Stolen baby brought back home after months in Juba Woman’s inability to breastfeed and sooth baby got other passengers concerned, and conflicting information about her nationality is what finally gave her away BY AGGREY MUTAMBO @agmutambo email@example.com A Kenyan baby stolen from its mother just four days after birth returned to the country yesterday after a South Sudanese court ordered that he be brought back. The boy, who was in the company of the Children’s Department and Kenya Mission in South Sudan officials, remained playful, at one point grabbing a journalist’s microphone, but his parents are yet to be identified. The boy will be staying at a chil- dren’s home in the meantime. The baby had been in the custody of the Kenyan embassy for CHRONOLOGY Search for parents begin September 26, 2013: Baby stolen from its mother in Kenya. September 30: Woman steals baby in Kenya and boards a bus in Nairobi for Juba October 1: Curious passengers alert authorities at the South Sudan Border point of Namule. Woman is then taken in for questioning. She admits stealing the baby. October 4: Woman two other accomplices. October 7: She is charged and later sentenced to a year in jail. February 21, 2014: Baby returned to Kenya. four months, before he was finally flown in. His story begun on Septem- ber 30 when a woman in her 40s boarded a Simba Coach bus destined for Juba in Nairobi. The woman, who has since been jailed for child abduction, boarded the bus after claiming that she was the real mother of the child. But in a journey that takes more than 20 hours, the cat was always going to get out of the bag. While the abductor managed to pass through the Kenya-Uganda border, she was not lucky after crossing into South Sudan. The baby started crying and the other passengers got concerned because the mother was neither breastfeeding nor soothing it. The following day at the Nam- ule border point in South Sudan, the passengers notified police who questioned the woman. “She initially said she was the mother, but later changed the story saying she had only been given the baby to bring it to South Sudan. Through the South Sudanese authorities, we arrested two other women, one from Kenya and another from South Sudan,” Mr Lawrence Chemonges, the Foreign Affairs Senior Assistant Secretary for Diaspora Service, told reporters. The ministry had been noti- fied of the incident in October, but relied on South Sudanese authorities to trace the woman’s movements. It appears her phone records helped. “The passengers in the bus had suspected that the child is stolen because the baby had been crying all the way from Nairobi and she was not breastfeeding him,” a dispatch from the Kenyan Embassy in Juba describes how the Mission got wind of the theft. One Kenyan woman on the bus who had talked to the abductor later called the Mission in Juba to report the incident. According to the report, when they asked her why she was neither cuddling nor breastfeeding the baby, she told them she had just adopted it. It is a curious incident given that normally, an adult travelling in the company of a minor across the borders must declare the identity of the child. The Foreign Affairs Ministry could not determine whether she had declared her details at the Kenyan border. Checked breasts Border officials later demanded that her breasts be checked to determine if she had breastfed at all. It is after this that they updated their national security agencies in Juba. The Mission further updated Nairobi that the suspect, only identified as Hellen Syokau, had initially indicated that she was from Tanzania before her identification documents betrayed her. “She informed the passengers that she was from Tanzania but upon producing her documents, they found out that she is from Kenya, Eastern Province and Kamba by tribe,” it stated. The baby now identified as Marua Munene alias Baby Lucky Juba, though his real name is yet to be known, was returned to Nairobi by Kenyan Foreign Affairs officials following a court order in Juba that the baby be brought back. According to the embassy, the PHOT | NATION Foreign Affairs and Children’s Department officials with baby Marua Munene at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi yesterday. baby’s three would-be abductors have since been jailed, with the Kenyan getting a year behind bars for abduction and trafficking. The ministry declined to identify the other Kenyan woman and her south Sudanese accomplice, saying further investigations were going on. “We still don’t know the baby’s parents because there were no identification or birth certificate on the woman. We managed to trace other suspects using the woman’s previous telephone calls and she later admitted to have stolen the baby in Kenya,” Mr John Mariera, the secretary in the Kenyan Mission in Juba said. Foreign Affairs could not name the children’s home the baby will be taken to, but has asked anyone who lost a baby of this age to report the matter to the police or contact the ministry urgently. National News 3 SMS ‘BREAKING NEWS’ to 20667 Mentally disabled girls, women more prone to rape: Study BY OTIATO GUGUYU @googooyuh firstname.lastname@example.org AND MARYANNE GICOBI @maryannegicobi email@example.com Nine months into a pregnancy she was completely unaware of, Margaret (not her real name) told her mother that she needed to rush to the washroom when her waters broke. Margaret is a mentally handicapped girl who was constantly preyed upon by an assailant known to her. Whenever she was left at home alone, she would go to a nearby church in Kiambu County where a caretaker noticed her. When he asked her to go to into his house and undress, Margaret did so without hesitating and ended up being defiled and impregnated. She explains in a broken language that the man used to give her biscuits, buns (mandazi) and juice, so she did as she was told without questioning. Mentally disabled women and girls have for a long time been suffering in silence as they are more vulnerable to violence. According to a report by the Coali- tion of Women Against Violence and the Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped 57.4 per cent of mentally challenged women have been sexually violated more than three times. The report shows that most of the abuses were mainly rape at 15 per cent and defilement at 10 per cent “Women with autism, epilepsy, cer- ebral palsy and down’s syndrome were more vulnerable due to their limited intellectual functioning skills which perpetrators take advantage of,” the coalition’s director Saida Ali said. Ms Ali (right) noted that the sur- vey was conducted because of lack of statistics on such violations in Kenya, which had made it difficult to establish the extent of the vice. She pointed out that whereas there has been legal interventions including the Sexual Offences Act, 2013, violence has been on the rise with statistics indicating that 1 in every 5 women will face some form of violence in their lifetime. Like in Margaret’s case, the study shows that 51 per cent of the perpetrators, usually male, are known to the victims especially from their neighbourhood. Most of the victims reported to have been sexually abused by therapists who were attending to them, their uncles, teachers, neighbours and even their watchmen. The survey was done on people between the age of 10 to 30 years, who were either attending school or stayed at home. The study also revealed that it is ‘‘ the lack of parental care, family and community support, that makes them targets for sexual abuse. At least 60 per cent of those who were sexually abused at one time or another had been neglected by family members. Women and girls with other forms of disabilities were also vulnerable to sexual abuse. “I did not even know what had Women with autism, epilesy, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome are more likely to be taken advantage of.” Covaw director Saida Ali happened to her until her teacher called me when she noticed Margaret was pregnant,” Margaret’s mother explained. She added that usually, it was her siblings who knew of her whereabouts and that since she was busy fending for the family, she never got to know her daughter had been defiled. Ms Fatma Wangare, the chief ex- ecutive of Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped explains that poverty plays a big role in exposing this group to defilement. They usually come from the poorest of the poor who often neglect them while trying to earn a living. “Even in the specialized schools, they are left alone in the classes and no one takes care of them. Sometimes you find older intellectually challenged children grouped with the younger ones, marginalizing them more, even among the people with disability,” she said. The cases were more rampant in Kiambu than in Nairobi and slum dwellers were more vulnerable to sexual violations, the report shows “Kayole, Dandora, Umoja and Embakasi estates had more cases of sexual violence that any other area, especially in view of the fact that crime rates and poverty were also high in these areas,” said Ms Ali. The study which was conducted late last year revealed that societal stigma led to few cases being reported despite the vice being prevalent. This is especially because most of the perpetrators were close relations to the victims and families preferred to keep the crime in the fold. The coalition maintains that the study painted the true picture of violence across the country.
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