Protesters demand justice for Kenyan schoolgirl rape victim
Protesters march in Kenya and deliver petition signed by one million people
Several hundred Kenyan protesters marched on police headquarters in Nairobi yesterday to deliver a petition of more than a million names demanding justice after men accused of brutally gang raping a schoolgirl cut grass as punishment.
The ferocious attack on the teenage girl and lack of action against those who carried it out have sparked outrage in the country.
The 16-year-old, known by the pseudonym Liz, was reportedly attacked, beaten and then raped by six men as she returned from her grandfather's funeral in western Kenya in June, before the gang dumped her, bleeding and unconscious, in a deep sewage ditch.
Liz is now wheelchair-bound with a broken back, caused either by the beating or by being hurled down into the pit, and also suffered serious internal injuries from the rape.
Protesters marched through the streets of the Kenyan capital wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Justice for Liz", with activists draping dozens of women's underwear along the fence of the police station.
"Slashing grass is not punishment for rape," a sign carried by a protester read.
Nebila Abdulmelik, of the women's rights campaign group Femnet, launched the petition on Monday.
"Our immediate task is for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators, and then disciplinary action at the police who failed to take action, because we feel that they embolden others to rape," Abdulmelik said.
More than 1.3 million people worldwide have signed the petition, which has been publicised by the online campaign group Avaaz.
Senior police officer William Thwere, who spoke to the organisers of the march, promised police were "investigating this issue... It will be dealt with the seriousness it deserves."
Liz's mother criticised police for their lack of action.
"The three... were only ordered to cut grass around the police camp and set free shortly after," she told the Daily Nation newspaper.
"My wish is to see justice done," Liz also told the newspaper. "I want my attackers arrested and punished."