Nairobi, Kenya — SHE’S a 4-year-old girl named Ida, fragile and shy, and when she was raped by a neighbor boy in September, her family tried to have the attacker arrested.
Yet the only interest the police showed was to ask for a bribe equivalent to $11.50 to make the arrest, the family says. The family didn’t have the money, but perhaps the rapist did because the supposed police investigation stalled.
This kind of police indifference and corruption is a major factor in the impunity that leads to staggering levels of sexual violence in much of the world. A United Nations study released in September of 10,000 men in six countries in Asia and the Pacific found that almost one-quarter acknowledged having raped a woman.
Other studies have reported similar findings. A 2011 study found that 37 percent of men in part of South Africa acknowledged having raped women.
Often the victims, like Ida, are breathtakingly young. Ida lives in the vast, teeming Kibera slum in Nairobi, where she is being raised by a great-uncle and great-aunt, Stephen and Jane, after her parents largely abandoned her. Stephen and Jane are pillars of stability in a troubled area, and they have taken in three street children to raise along with four children of their own.
After Ida’s rape, Jane closed her tiny restaurant for two weeks to get Ida surgery to repair internal injuries. Jane then made five trips to the Kilimani police station that oversees…