The 160 Girls Project
The 160 Girls Project
The 160 Girls is one of the key projects under Ripples International. The 160 Girls Project was the subject of a historical Court ruling that has been held as the standard for child justice all over the world. Ripples International has therefore helped create legal history – through a series of landmark rulings that have been admired around the world. To understand more about 160 Girls, we need to delve into its history.
For many years, child abuse cases were some of the most frustrating court cases to hold in court. Child abuse, unfortunately, was and is prevalent in the community. Instances where an older father figure, like a grandfather, uncle or a father would violate his daughter were common. These underage girls were left to carry the results of the act, through giving birth or in some cases opting for a painful and most of the time crudely carried out abortion. Ripples International would get wind of these cases, through various sources, and rescue the girls from that terrible domestic environment. Ripples International would provide shelter to these girls. Where the girls were pregnant, they would house the girls until their term came and they successfully delivered their babies. They would also fund the medical care and reconstructive surgery of girls who were severely abused. In the process, they would seek legal redress against the perpetrators of these heinous acts.
However, when the perpetrators were apprehended and brought to court, the cases would drag on for years. In most cases, the cases would be thrown out for ‘lack of evidence’ and lack of supporting documentation. You would find that the supporting documents like police files and medical reports would suddenly go missing, even after they were brought to court for the first hearing. DNA samples that tested positive would suddenly appear as ‘negative.’ Under the 160 Girls Movement, Ripples International sued the Police and held them responsible for delaying child abuse cases in Kenya. They also charged the police with impeding proper and efficient investigation of child abuse cases, and tampering with evidence.
Witnesses would suddenly withdraw and the some of the girls would suddenly decline to move forward with the case. In the case of DNA, you can imagine the kind of setback when DNA samples go missing. DNA samples, due to their nature expire after a short while, so any delay or tampering leads to contamination. They therefore cannot be accepted in court. This unusual twist of circumstances forced Ripples International to investigate these unusual incidents further. What they found out was very alarming. The Police had been compromised by family members to the perpetrator of the crime. There was proof that the police accepted bribes to ‘lose’ the evidence or simply drag their feet in the investigation of these cases. This is what led Ripples International to seek legal help. Not only where he girls denied justice, the higher authorities were actually helping in preventing them get legal justice! This is what led to the commencement of the 160 Girls Project.
On May 27, 2013, 160 Girls from Meru, Kenya; all of them victims of defilement/rape, made legal history with the help of lawyers from around the world. At the time, all 160 girls were being sheltered at Ripples International. Through a Constitutional challenge, the Kenyan state was held accountable for the Police treatment of defilement claims. In the process, the girls/petitioners secured access to justice for themselves and legal protection from rape for all 10,000,000 girls in Kenya. The High Court of Kenya ruled that the police treatment of the “160 Girls” petitioners’ claims violated their human rights, and that the police treatment of defilement had created a climate of impunity for defilement, which rendered them indirectly responsible for the harms inflicted by the perpetrators.
The aim of the “160 Girls” project is to hold the police and the Kenyan state accountable for the enforcement of defilement laws, and thereby meet their duty to protect girls in Kenya from this most appalling form of violence.
That singular goal we started off with of rescuing abandoned babies and rehabilitating orphans and vulnerable children in society has reaped massive rewards. Thanks to our work, we have expanded our focus to key community development initiatives related to women and children in Kenya
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