A major Kenyan University has sparked public outrage after victim blaming a female student who was gang raped on campus.
The University of Nairobi’s security department issued a memo on Monday about robbery and rape reports. In the memo, the university accused the rape survivor, who was attacked while walking home at night, of exhibiting "recklessness." Over 6,000 people have since signed an online petition, asking the university not to blame women for rape instead of perpetrators. The university later responded with an apology.
“In all three incidences reported since last year, a clear case of recklessness on the part of the female student can be drawn,” the university’s memo said, according to Reuters.
The memo suggested one female student put herself at risk of sexual violence and said she was raped after she, “entertained herself in various joints around the city and decided to walk all alone (drunk).”
The university also provided safety tips for students, warning them to only go out with “trusted friends” and to not leave drinks unattended. University Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kaima advised students that they could call the security department any time if they ran into problems. The security department did not, however, tell students not to carry out acts of sexual violence.
University of Nairobi would like you to know that in 3 recent cases where female students were robbed and/or raped, it was due to their recklessness.— Samira Sawlani (@samirasawlani) February 25, 2020
Their advice on what to do in Social places includes not leaving drinks unattended etc.
What it doesn’t include:
Don’t rape. pic.twitter.com/d6QMoeOXoM
The university quickly addressed the backlash and Kiama sent out an online apology on Wednesday.
“The memo was insensitive and does not represent the corporate values and image of University of Nairobi,” it stated.
In Kenya, official national statistics are not available on non-partner sexual violence but 40.7% of women report they have experienced physical and or sexual intimate partner violence.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone, but the anti-sexual assault organization Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) says bystanders can learn how to step in and prevent crimes from occurring, and campuses can work to increase safety.