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Activists urge support for stigmatised victim

The Citizen Reporter, Mwanza
July 8th, 2008

Some human rights activists in Mwanza have, amid growing stigma, appealed to the public to support the 13-year old girl who early this year was raped by a dog.

The schoolgirl was in March forced to be intimate with a dog at a camp belonging to Barrick Exploration Africa Limited in Sengerema District, Mwanza.

Three employees of the mining company, who allegedly masterminded the rape of the Standard Four pupil by a dog that also belongs to one of the Barrick company expatriates, have since been arrested and brought before the courts.

But as the trial continues, stigma against the little girl at the Sota Village in which the camp is situated has started to rear its ugly head.

The villagers now call every dog in sight in Kiswahili names including shemeji, wifi or mkwe meaning their sister, brother, father or mother in-laws," said Ms Helen James, a human rights activist with Kivulini, a non-governmental organisation that deals with women and children's rights.

In a show of solidarity with the minor, human rights activists, pupils and students in April marched to the Nyamagana District Commissioner's office protesting against the rape and demanding punitive action against the people behind it.

Three months since, some villagers have turned the incident into a laughing matter, pouring scorn on the little girl.

Appealing to visiting human rights activists recently, the raped girl asked them to whisk her out of the village, far from the madding crowd.

Ms James urged the villagers to support the girl saying if the victim left the village she might find herself living in difficult conditions.

Meanwhile, the three suspects in the case � Annicet Edward Ndege, Job Murama, and Shija Madata � were last Tuesday denied bail for the second time by the Mwanza Resident Magistrate's Court, where their case has been transferred from the Sengerema District Court.

Earlier, Inspector of Police, Mary Sungi pleaded with the court to set another date for the hearing of the defendants' bail application because the case's file had been sent to the Zonal State Attorneys Chambers.

She had also asked the court to deny the Barrick employees bail because the schoolgirl's condition was still said to be worse at Sengerema District Designated Hospital.

A medical report from the hospital revealed that the schoolgirl's private parts sustained serious injuries during the rape.

And the dog was sent to district veterinary offices for examinations to determine any possible health risks on the raped girl.


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