IJM Kenya stands up for children like Stephany and makes sure their abusers are held accountable under local laws.
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NAIROBI, KENYA – It took great bravery for Stephany* to speak up against her father after a brutal rape, but the young girl's courage has helped to keep her family safe. This week, IJM Kenya helped to secure her father's conviction, and he was sent to prison for life.
After the tough, year-long trial, IJM lawyer Mark Kones said, "The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but they still grind."
Hurt by the Father She Trusted
In 2012, 10-year-old Stephany had traveled with her father to visit relatives in another town. But when the two were alone one night, he raped the little girl and threatened her to keep quiet.
Stephany tried to confide in her grandmother and aunt the next morning, but the women didn't believe her story. She bravely told her mother about the rape three days later. Together they reported it to the police, who arrested her father soon after.
The arrest helped calm Stephany's fears, but her father was soon able to raise enough money to be released on bail. He and other relatives started threatening Stephany's mother, hoping she would drop the legal case. She stood firm—intent on getting justice for Stephany—but she was forced to move homes with her four children to escape the harassment.
Justice Delayed, But Not Denied
Around that time, Stephany's teacher heard about the shocking abuse and referred her family to IJM Kenya, who she knew had helped other impoverished families.
Right away, IJM Kenya worked with Stephany's family to help them build the strength to pursue justice. IJM attorneys worked with the state prosecutor to prepare a solid case for trial, and IJM social workers counseled Stephany as she prepared to share the truth of her father's abuse in court.
"When conviction was confirmed, he seemed in shock. The justice he had been delaying all along had finally caught up with him." -IJM Attorney Mark Kones
For a full year, IJM stood with the girl's family as her case met setback after setback in Nairobi's overburdened courts. Delivery of the judgment was delayed five times, and her father's lawyer boasted that the man would never be convicted for his crime.
But on March 4, 2014, the tides turned: The judge found Stephany's father guilty for the rape and, after several days of deliberation, sentenced him to life in prison.
"When conviction was confirmed, he seemed in shock," says Kones. "The justice he had been delaying all along had finally caught up with him."
Picking up the Pieces
Today, social workers are walking with Stephany, through IJM's trauma-focused therapy program as she heals from the abuse. Now 11 years old, she is back in school, where she enjoys math and playing with her friends.
IJM Kenya has made sure that all of Stephany's medical exams and treatments were covered, and have supported her education by providing school fees, supplies and a new uniform.
With her husband in jail, Stephany's mother is now the sole breadwinner for her four young children. The family is settling into their new home, and IJM will help her with small business training so she can support her children once again.
With her daughter safe and justice served, Stephany's mother told IJM, "I now feel free. We are able to start life on a new foundation now."