Our field office has experienced several sweet victories recently – two in particular stand out to me that I want to share with y’all:

In March, we celebrated the first conviction of the year in a child sexual assault case, and just last Friday rejoiced that a second perpetrator in the same case was also convicted!  Our client, a precious young girl named Laura*, was raped by her father and two neighbors after her mother’s death.  Both neighbors have now been convicted and given a life sentence to prison where they will not ever be able to abuse or violate the rights and dignity of young girls again.  Laura’s father, however, is still awaiting judgement.

Recently I was able to attend a hearing in this man’s case case.  As I sat in that courtroom, a dusty open-air room with cement walls and long wooden benches, I was struck by so many things – but the greatest being this: empty eyes of man with not conviction of wrongdoing in his heart.  In Kenya, if you are too poor to afford a defense attorney one is not provided.  It’s too bad for you – you don’t get one.  And so Laura’s father acts as his own advocate in this case.  But what I saw when it was his turn to question the witness was a smirk of defiance and stiff demeanor and those empty eyes, without a drop of guilt or sorrow in his body.

His case is coming up for judgment soon.  Please pray that justice will be delivered with the full force of the law.  Pray that God would awaken him to the reality of what he has done to his very own daughter and the consequences that have been a result of his choices.  Pray for continued emotional and psychological healing for his children, Laura and her siblings, and that they would know how precious they are and how much they are loved by their maker.  And pray that through justice, God would show this man mercy, draw him to Himself and bring restoration to this family.

Another case that was cause for spontaneous celebration in our office happened just this month – the details of which were shocking even to our own staff who are well aware of the brokenness of the public justice system.  This, however, was a new low.  For nearly a week an eight-year old girl was locked away in jail for allegedly stealing a cell phone from a salon, despite laws that require the police to charge and set bail within 24 hours of arrest and do not allow for the criminalization of children under the age of 12.  Instead of enforcing the law, police officers demanded a payment of 10,000 Kenya shillings, which is approximately $100.  Officers told the child’s mother that 7,500 shillings must be paid to the owner of the phone and we assume 2,500 shillings was what the officers were asking “for their trouble.”  When she explained to them that she could not pay, officers arrogantly told her they would keep her child in jail so that she would feel enough pain to come up with the money.

Something incredibly impressive (and different from many other NGO’s) about the IJM model is that we do choose to work with police officers and other justice professionals inside the system who do not bend to corruption.  We believe in strengthening the system from within so that in the future it can and will function as it should, on its own.  There are often discouragement in working this way, but it does pay off! In this case we were able to call upon higher officials in the police force who, upon hearing the story, demanded the girl’s release from jail and immediately let us know that that swift action would be taken against officers responsible for such impunity.

Please keep our team in your thoughts and prayers.  They work they do is hard and sometimes dangerous, but in spite of these roadblocks and hurdles, we do see the tide of justice rolling!

*Laura is a pseudonym used to protect client confidentiality.

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