This month we celebrate the anniversary of our court video links. It’s a dream which we made into a reality in 2017, three years after successfully raising the funds and countless hours spent navigating red tape. It’s a project that was created following too many heart-breaking encounters in which our girls were forced to stand next to the perpetrators in court. Silenced by fear, they were being bullied into submission by the very process that was meant to protect them. Changing this process is one of our proudest achievements to date.
What is a court video link?
A court video link allows examination of the witness at a remote location. This means our children do not have to physically confront the perpetrators, instead they interact with the court in ‘real time’, over video. Through this system, procedures follow as closely as possible those that occur if the witness was in the courtroom.
The horrors of attending court
Prior to the introduction of our court video links, our girls would be made to stand next to their abusers. Face to face. Perpetrators were allowed to ridicule the evidence of these children. They were able to give them ‘the eye’ and say that they enjoyed what he did. These are just some of the horrors that were shared with us. Going to court was in many ways worse than being violated in the first place.
As much as we prepare them for their court appearance, often our children feel overwhelmed, intimidated and threatened by having to face their abuser. They are unable to give evidence and the offender walks free and potentially offends again.
Our court video link becomes a reality
This could not continue. So in 2014 we set out to raise funds to install a video link between the witness room and court room of the main local court. In true Rafiki Mwema style our community rallied behind our children and we quickly hit our target.
Three years of red tape followed but we would not be defeated! In July 2017 our first court video link was launched, the first of its kind in Kenya. The system includes a soundproofed room with recording video equipment. This protects vulnerable witnesses from the damaging and sickening process of being exposed to their attacker.
But more needed to be done
Then in 2019 we got angry. More needed to be done. At just three years old, our baby girl had to face the man who abused her in court, as her case was not being heard in the main court. At an age where she is just learning to communicate she was expected to stand alongside this vile human and speak against him. Naturally she was terrified and ran out of court crying, unable to testify against her rapist.
So we set out to raise $20,000 for a second video link to be installed. Over the course of just one weekend our supporters made this a reality. We were able to have the second video linked installed prior to our girl’s rescheduled hearing. As a result, she successfully testified through the new video link. She was able to testify how she was defiled and was able to identify him, all while in the soundproof safe room, nowhere near him.
Thanks to the support of our Rafiki Mwema community we are able to protect our children from the trauma of facing their abuser. It takes an army to make change – and between us we have all made so much difference. So many children, woman, will never know what you have helped is achieve. They will never know because we have changed the future. Join us in celebrating this incredible milestone.
Find out how you can support our ongoing work HERE.