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3 Kenyan Men Get Death Sentence for Sexually Assaulting Woman

  • VOA Staff

FILE - Women take part in a protest, demanding justice for a woman who was attacked and stripped recently in Nairobi by men who claimed that she was dressed indecently, in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 17, 2014.

A Kenyan court sentenced three men to death Wednesday for stripping and sexually assaulting a woman they believed was dressed too provocatively.

The incident three years ago sparked nationwide outrage. On Nov. 17, 2014, hundreds of Kenyan women — and some men — took to the streets in Nairobi to protest the assault after a video of the attack surfaced online. The hashtag #MydressMychoice trended on social media in Kenya.

On Wednesday, Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi issued death sentences against attackers Edward Gitau, Nicholas Mwangi and Meshak Mwangi.

The judge described the "senseless" offense as "most heinous" and "uncouth," and said the sentence was a "notice to uncivilized men."

Catherine Muthoni says she is a victim of such a crime.

"Violations are always painful," she said, "like there is no English word in the dictionary to describe the amount of psychological pain, trying to heal from such a process."

Linda Oloo, a researcher and activist based in Nairobi, took part in the march three years ago. She says the ruling is a victory for women all over Kenya, and is much more than a warning.

FILE - Kenyan women demand the right to wear whichever clothes they want, at a demonstration in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 17, 2014.
FILE - Kenyan women demand the right to wear whichever clothes they want, at a demonstration in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 17, 2014.

"[It's] not really a warning to men, but just sending a statement on the freedom and emancipation of women, in the sense men generally do not define how women dress," Oloo said. "Women themselves define what fits them, so they dress according to what fits them — their personalities, their lifestyles, their career, their occupation. It really is not defined by a segment of men."

Oloo says she took part in the 2014 protest to highlight some men's lack of respect for women and to support women's rights in Kenya.

"The march had an impact," Oloo said, "because it got massive attention from the media — that's mainstream media and social media. It kind of created an awareness and these incidences have since reduced."

The court on Wednesday also ordered each of the men to serve 25-year prison terms, in addition to their death sentences. Kenya does not carry out the death penalty, and such sentences are usually commuted to life in prison.

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