At least a million people across the globe have signed a petition to push for the arrest and prosecution of suspects who gang-raped and violently attacked a Busia pupil four months ago.
The online petition, started by Kenyan Nebila Abdulmelik of African Women’s Communication Network (Femnet), through the international campaign network, Avaaz, had by Monday afternoon hit the one million mark.
"We're mobilizing citizens to add their voice, their solidarity and their outrage for the way Liz's case was handled.
Four months after her ordeal, Liz is still awaiting Justice.
Liz is not the first nor the last case but she has become our rallying call to ensure that impunity doesn't go unanswered.
We want justice, and we want it now - for Liz and all others like her,’’ said Ms Abdulmelik
Human rights organisations intend to present to the petition signatures to Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo on Thursday at his office.
The story has also been widely covered by the international media including the Guardian which in its Sunday edition headlining it: Kenya’s women fight for justice as rapists are sentenced to cut grass.’’
The campaigners are demanding justice for the Standard Seven pupil who was beaten, gang-raped and dumped in a pit latrine on June 26, at Tingolo village in Busia County.
The matter was reported to Tingolo Administration Police Camp the following morning by villagers who also seized three of the suspects.
The officers on duty, recorded it as an assault, and released the suspects after making them cut grass in the compound as punishment.
The teenager is now wheel-chair bound from a spinal injury and developed obstetric fistula from what doctors say is as a result of the rape.
She is receiving treatment at Gynocare Fistula Centre in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.
The campaign, JusticeforLiz, spearheaded locally by the Coalition on Women Against Violence (Covaw), Youth Deliver and Femnet, has also attracted the attention of Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo who at the weekend gave the assurance that justice would be done.
But Mr Kimaiyo’s posts on his twitter handle sparked immediate response and confusion when, in response to the campaigners on Saturday, indicated that the suspects had been arrested and charge in court.
He did not immediately respond to inquiries by Sunday Nation for further details.
“Thank you all for tweets JusticeforLiz.
The matter is almost concluded and suspects have been arraigned in court awaiting hearing date. IG’’
In the evening however, the tweet posted at 10.15am was deleted with the Inspector General posting fresh ones.
Read the post: “Our investigations are complete. We are awaiting normal process from DPP. IG.’’
The other read:’’ The file has been processed through the normal channel and forwarded to the DPP for advice.’’
Monday, Ms Saida Ali, Covaw’s executive director the morning protests would start at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner to press for police action in the Busia rape and the need to address “escalating’’ rape cases.
“The organisations have resulted to a radical measure to call for the attention of the State and the need for the State to ensure action in addressing rape and specifically amplify the call for arrest of perpetrators of the gang rape of the 16-year old Liz,’’ said Ms Ali of the protests dubbed “keep off our panties.’’
The Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko has told the Nation that he has already ordered for the arrest of the suspects and directed an inquiry into alleged police failure and mishandling of the girls case.
The plight of the girl was published on October 8 by the Nation’s DN2 prompting police investigations.
However, they are yet to arrest the suspects whose names they have. Butula CID boss Shadrack Bundi who leads the investigations has maintained they went underground soon after the story.
A campaign by Nation Media Group to support the16-old girl get treatment and justice has received overwhelming support from Kenyans and abroad with calls to the police to ensure justice for the abused girl.
Well-wishers donated more than Sh700,000 towards her medical care.
Last week, Nation visited the teenager in hospital and paid Sh583,000 for the bills.
Liz, who has already undergone surgery and is recovering at Gynocare Fistula Centre where she is also being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.