Doctors strike in Kenya Stalls defilement and rape cases in the Country

The ongoing strike by doctors has cast a wide net of disruption, not only affecting patients nationwide but also resonating within courtrooms where their professional expertise is essential.

In the North Rift region, the impact of the strike on legal proceedings is palpable, particularly in cases involving defilement and rape, where medical testimonies are pivotal. Numerous such cases in local courts have been indefinitely postponed due to the absence of doctors.

At the Eldoret Law Court, frustration boiled over recently when a defendant accused of defiling a minor expressed vehement objection to the fourth consecutive postponement of his case. Out on bond, he was dismayed to learn from the court clerk that the proceedings would not advance due to the unavailability of the government doctor who had examined the victim.

Before Resident Magistrate Rodgers Otieno, the case hit another snag, leading to its adjournment as the crucial medical testimony was unavailable.

Reflecting on the broader picture, the striking doctors, advocating for the implementation of the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) by the government, stand as part of a larger movement impacting legal processes.

Another instance at the same court involved a minor facing defilement charges awaiting age assessment before entering a plea. However, the absence of the doctor, who was summoned to provide a crucial report, led to yet another postponement, pushing the case to April 24.

Expressing concern, Magistrate Otieno acknowledged the ripple effect of the strike on the court’s operations, especially in cases requiring medical input. State counsel Meshack Rop echoed similar sentiments, recognizing the challenge beyond their control.

The strike’s ramifications extend beyond the courtroom, affecting the examination of sexual offense victims in hospitals. Without doctors available for such assessments, detectives face hurdles in compiling investigation reports for court proceedings.

Reports from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) underscore the gravity of the situation, with over 400 sexual offense cases attended to monthly, predominantly comprising rape and defilement incidents. Underlining the urgent need for resolution, the impact of the doctor’s strike on justice delivery and public welfare remains a pressing concern.