Little Vin* was only five when he was sexually assaulted by his neighbor. With the support of IJM Kenya, he and his family persevered despite pressure to drop the charges and bravely faced his abuser to testify in court. Vin's perpetrator was sentenced to life in prison, with the judge saying the conviction "...should serve as a strong warning to anyone who preys on innocent children.”
Little Vin* was always a happy child who loved school and playing with his friends.
On June 15, 2018, his neighbor, someone whom Vin knew well and trusted, spotted Vin playing alone and approached him. The man told him that he had been sent by Vin's mother to give him a snack of tea and ugali (a cornmeal cake). Vin followed the neighbor to his house, but when Vin asked for the tea, the man sexually assaulted him violently.
Vin had just celebrated his fifth birthday.
That day, when Vin’s mother came home from work selling porridge at a construction site, she found her youngest son sobbing uncontrollably. She asked Vin what was making him cry and he told her the neighbor had hurt him.
Vin’s mother confirmed the worst when she lifted Vin onto her lap and saw bloodstains on his school uniform. She rushed him to the hospital.
The family immediately reported the attack to the police. Vin's neighbor was arrested and charged two days later, but it made things even harder. The neighbor's family began to lay on the pressure and demand that they drop the accusations. However, Vin's family refused to yield in their quest to get justice for their youngest child.
IJM Kenya supports Vin in bravely testifying in court and securing a conviction
A friend who saw what Vin's family was going through introduced his mother to IJM Kenya. Dedicated IJM staff immediately began working to ensure Vin got the justice he deserved. IJM attorneys supported the state prosecutor in court while IJM social workers counseled little Vin and helped him prepare to share the truth during his testimony.
The road was not easy and there were obstacles to overcome. Vin endured the trauma at such a young age and he had an existing learning disability that affected his speech and communication. Despite all of these factors, Vin bravely testified against his attacker in court, with confidence and clarity. He faced the man who had abused him, raised his hand, pointed at him and said, “it was you who hurt me, and I felt pain.”
The judge said there was no doubt the neighbor had assaulted Vin and that the neighbor's conviction “...should serve as a strong warning to anyone who preys on innocent children.”
On November 4, 2021, the attacker was sentenced to life in prison. Under Kenyan law, sexual violence against children holds the same sentencing severity as murder and robbery with violence. Because Vin was five at the time of the crime, his neighbor received the highest possible sentence - a severe consequence that our IJM Kenya teams have seen garner attention and media coverage.
Thanks to the quick action of his mother, prosecutors and IJM Kenya staff, today, Vin, his family and his community can look forward to a safer future.
Esther Njuguna, the IJM aftercare worker who supported Vin, said she was not only happy with the decision of the court, but was especially glad it was made possible by the strong testimony given by the child.
IJM Kenya will continue to walk with and support Vin who is continuing with therapy and is doing well in school.
* a psuedonym.