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28 Aug 2016

Lucy Mkanyika, Daily Nation (Kenya)

Kenya: Female workers recount sexual abuse & intimidation by mine owner

"Women victims of sexual abuse at mine speak about their ordeal"

Women victims of sexual harassment at a mining company in Kasigau, Taita Taveta County have disclosed how they were threatened and harassed by the perpetrator to withdraw their case from court. Speaking after presenting their evidence to an inquiry into violations of human rights abuses at Taita Taveta mining zones, the women said the perpetrator, a company owner, also promised to "reward" them once they dropped the case.

The one-week investigations, through a public inquiry, have been initiated by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). Speaking after giving their evidence in camera at the Kasigau Social Hall, the women said some of their fellow victims were given Sh3,000 by the perpetrator of the sexual abuse, with promises of more goodies once she was acquitted by the Voi Law Courts.

The suspect was arrested and charged in court for sexual abuse charges that included searching the women’s genitals claiming they might have hidden gemstones there. They said more than 100 women went through the ordeal while working as casuals at her mining site last year. The women were taken into a room where they were forced to remove their clothes by their boss who would then insert fingers to check whether they had put minerals into their private parts.