15-Year-Old Amani's Brave Testimony Brings Justice in Kenya

Amani's brave testimony in court proved stronger than her uncle's deceitful alibi, and the court declared her assailant guilty.
Amani's brave testimony in court proved stronger than her uncle's deceitful alibi, and the court declared her assailant guilty.

NAIROBI, KENYA: IJM attorneys felt the mood in the courtroom change abruptly. When the judge read the verdict against the man who raped Amani,* fear turned to surprise – and joy. Despite the perpetrator's attempts to distort the truth, he was convicted. Justice had been done for 15-year-old Amani and her family.

Over a year ago, Amani was walking home from school alone. Suddenly, her uncle grabbed her and forced her into a nearby forest. He raped her and threatened to hurt his young niece if she told anyone. Scared for her life, Amani kept her pain to herself for five long days.

Amani's mother could tell something was wrong. With her encouragement, Amani confessed the awful truth. Shocked, the family took Amani to the hospital for medical care, and the uncle was arrested soon after.

Just one day before the trial started, the officer who had arrested Amani's uncle referred her case to IJM Kenya. IJM's team of justice professionals quickly got involved. Investigators worked with local police to establish the facts of the case. IJM social workers met with Amani, helping her prepare to share the truth at the next day's hearing.

"I'm happy justice has been done," said Amani's grandmother. "They've done the right thing for my granddaughter, and they've done the right thing for our family."

With her family's support, Amani bravely gave her testimony in court. But her uncle had crafted an elaborate and convincing alibi—presenting false travel records and even persuading a friend to speak on his behalf. Even though he could not prove the timeframe of his story, Amani's family and IJM staff worried his lies would sway the judge's ruling.

"We never doubted Amani's story, but we doubted the outcome," said IJM Advocate Wamaitha Kimani.

Despite the uncle's deceitful story, IJM Kenya staff continued to work closely with a police prosecutor to stand up for Amani as the trial continued. Her father and grandparents faithfully attended every court hearing, hopeful that Amani would one day receive justice. Amani met with an IJM social worker regularly, receiving counseling and processing the trauma of what had happened to her.

On September 29, 2012, the case came to a close. The verdict was a welcome surprise: Amani's uncle was found guilty and would serve 20 years in prison. As a police officer located handcuffs, Amani's attacker froze in shock. Relief washed over her family.

"I'm happy justice has been done," said Amani's grandmother. "They've done the right thing for my granddaughter, and they've done the right thing for our family."

 

*A pseudonym has been used for the protection of this IJM client.