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Man found guilty in retrial after original conviction was overturned

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Today, if you hear Anna* passionately educating and empowering teenage girls on how to recognize and report sexual abuse, you wouldn't know how much pain she has overcome over the last decade because of the same abuse.

Behind her beautiful smile and soft voice lie many days and nights of working through serious trauma, an experience she has turned into her source of strength.

At 14, Anna faced many difficulties beyond her age. She was pushed into a horrendous situation that left her desperately fighting for her life.

Living in poverty, Anna's mother knew education meant access to opportunities for her daughter. She would take up any casual job available to provide for Anna and her siblings. However, the money she would get wasn't enough.

One day, Anna’s mother learned that a school head, a man she knew very well, was giving scholarships to needy pupils. She went to talk to him about sponsoring Anna's education.

The man agreed but with the condition, that Anna stays with his family, like other children.

Never in her worst dreams did Anna's mother think that the man, whom she respected, would hurt her daughter, so she allowed Anna to stay with the man's family.

Anna's mother would occasionally visit the head teacher’s family when she started her new school term. Everything seemed fine until one day when Anna became ill.

Instead of caring for Anna, the man preyed on her vulnerability and sexually abused her.

"I was sleeping on the seat when I felt a heavy hand pull me. I pushed him away, but he was heavy. He forcefully removed my pyjamas and assaulted me," said Anna.

Anna cried and told him "no, stop", but he would not listen. He sexually abused her and when he was done, he told her not to tell anyone, or he would hurt her and her mother.

Anna cried the entire night. She felt alone and scared. "Why did this happen to me?" She wondered.

With no one to talk to, in pain and confusion, she kept the horrific details to herself. But before long, she realized she was pregnant.

At that time, when she discovered her condition, her mother had travelled to another town. Fearful about what she would do or who to talk to, Anna informed the man who abused her that she was pregnant.

In return, the man tricked her into travelling to a different town that was over 186 miles away. He told her they were going to visit a relative. What she did not know was that the man had arranged for her to terminate the pregnancy, in a village far away from her loved ones.

At the village, the man took Anna to what she referred to as "a dark hut" where she was forced to undergo an abortion. As if nothing had happened, the man took Anna back to the bus station to return home – with Anna heavily bleeding from the botched abortion.[1]

When Anna got home, her mother says "she looked frail and very sick." She had lost so much blood that she collapsed on the floor.

IJM staff learned of Anna's plight in March 2009 through the hospital she was taken to for treatment.

"We knew something has to be done to secure justice for Anna," said Esther, an IJM counsellor who began working with Anna toward her healing journey.

The abuse was reported to the police and the attacker was arrested and charged. IJM lawyers further worked with the prosecution in court and in 2011, the man was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

At that time, Anna, who bravely testified against the man, thought justice had been served. It hadn't.

The perpetrator appealed the court's decision and in 2014 a re-trial was ordered because of a technicality. He successfully argued that he was not advised of his options when a new magistrate took over the case.

That setback did not stop Anna and IJM's pursuit of justice. The case began for the second time in 2014 and after hearing testimonies from 7 witnesses, including Anna, the court, on September 7, sentenced the perpetrator to 12 years in prison.

"It has been a long journey, 13 years seeking justice for Anna, but we are happy that justice has finally been served," said IJM lawyer Julius Nyaga.

Anna's traumatic experience did not stop her from furthering her dreams. She has since completed university after attaining good marks.

In 2021, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Currently, she is working with an organization that equips survivors and advocates to lead in ending sexual abuse in the country.

Anna is a beacon of hope to many girls who have suffered abuse. She uses her creativity, public speaking, and leadership skills to come up with teaching programs that help children and teenagers understand their sexuality.

Not only that, but she also educates parents and caregivers on how to take care of children and stop sexual abuse.

[1] Abortion in Kenya is illegal.

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