Third woman reports alleged assault by Tony Mochama

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Women rights group have revealed that a third woman has filed a complaint with the police against Standard Group columnist and PEN Kenya Secretary Tony Mochama for alleged sexual assault.

In a statement, the lobby groups led by Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) said the alleged assault occurred on September 21st 2014, at the National Museum, during the Westgate Memorial Service of Storymoja Hay Festival and was booked under OB Number 74/17/3/2015.

The lobby groups said the victim didn’t report the assault when it occurred because she had serious concerns about personal, social and professional repercussions explaining that she is reporting now because she believes Mochama will continue abusing women unless stopped by the law.

Last year Mochama was investigated by the CID, for an alleged indecent act against author Shailja Patel and currently the file has been transferred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The alleged assault occurred at a lunch meeting at the home of Professor Wambui Mwangi aimed at discussing the business of the Africa Poetry Book Fund with the Fund’s founder, Professor Kwame Dawes, who was visiting Kenya for the Storymoja Hay Festival.

On October 31st, 2014 a second woman reported alleged assault by Mochama to Central Police Station under OB Number 49/B1/10/14.

On his part Mochama filed a civil lawsuit against Patel and Professor Mwangi alleging defamation.

Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness {CREAW} Executive Director Wangechi Wachira said Mochama’s move to file a defamation suit was a desperate attempt to silence victims and witnesses of his alleged crimes, and to create a chilling climate for free speech in Kenya.

“It will fail. Victims of sexual violence have every right to publicize their experiences and to seek help. Free speech is protected under Article 33 (1) of the Constitution,” Wachira said.

Storymoja Hay Festival Director Muthoni Garland noted that some of the alleged assaults happened at Storymoja events are so painful to hear but underlines that we all share the shame and must be part of the solution, particularly the need to promote enforcement of the hard-fought Sexual Offences Act.

“For taking the incredibly brave step of reporting the assaults to the police, I really commend Shailja Patel and the two other women who have come forward. It is not a lightly-made decision given the public interest and its potential to damage reputations,” Garland said.

On her part Coalition for Constitution Implementation {CCI} convener Cidi Otieno said nothing can compensate our sisters for the violations, the stripping of their personal sovereignty, the theft of their privacy and dignity.

“They and their families bear lifelong costs – personal, professional, social and political – of reporting the crime. Their constitutional rights to freedom of movement and assembly, pursuit of livelihood, and full participation in public life have been, and continue to be, violated. Sexual violence rips apart the fabric of Ubuntu.”

“The charging of Mr Mochama will not erase his defamation, threats and graphic insults to our sisters on his media platforms. But it will be a groundbreaking step towards dismantling the culture of impunity for sexual violence. The Constitution that Kenyan women fought and died for must now deliver its promise of full humanity for women and girls,” Otieno said.

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