On Monday, Kenya’s High Court awarded four million shillings in damages to a young woman, who was strip-searched by police in a drug search operation two years ago.
The incident, which took place in August 2015, caused an uproar when the images of the half-naked girl made rounds on social media.
The female student was among 44 others arrested at Kibirigwi trading centre in Nyeri, Nyeri County. The car was intercepted by the police after a tipoff that it was playing loud music and the students were smoking bhang and having sex. The police searched the vehicle and found bhang, hidden in the girl’s undergarment.
The girl was charged in court the following day and was sentenced on an 18-month probation.
The case was picked up by a child rights group, which sought legal compensation for the humiliation and violation of the young woman’s rights.
High Court Judge, Justice John Mativo ruled that the girls’ constitutional rights to dignity have been violated and awarded her sh4 million.
Justice Mativo added that it was wrong for the female officers conducting the search to do it in front of the girl’s colleague and male police officers.
“I conclude that the search was illegal in that it violated the provisions of the Children’s Act, Article 53 of the constitution, the right to dignity and not be subjected to degrading treatment and international conventions protecting the rights of children and statutory provisions governing police conduct while searching women,” Justice Mativo said.
The ruling is one of the rare victories that has put the Kenyan Courts in the limelight.
In July 2017, a matatu crew caught on camera stripping a woman was sentenced to death robbery with violence and 25 years each for sexual assault.
Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi sentenced the three men after the video of the assault went viral and sparked the #MyDressMyChoice protest in Nairobi in November 2014.