There has been much controversy in recent weeks over a planned lawsuit on behalf of 650 Kenyan women who claim to have been raped by British soldiers. The crux of the debate is whether or not the rape charges are genuine or are being invented out of thin air in order to pursue the potentially lucrative lawsuit.
Much of the controversy centers around the Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict (IMPACT) — a Kenyan group that has been working with British lawyers in preparing the lawsuit.
One of the major pieces of evidence buttressing the rape charges were mixed-race children born to Kenyan women who claimed they had been born as the result of rape by British soldiers. First, however, it turned out most of these children were born to prostitutes. Then, Kenyan prostitutes began stepping forward claiming they were told by IMPACT that they could receive thousands of dollars if they accused British soldiers of raping them.
The Daily Telegraph reported on one of these prostitutes,
Angela Muguri, 24, claims three IMPACT activists sought her out and promised to make her a millionaire. All she had to do was pretend that British soldiers raped her — and then give them a cut of any forthcoming compensation.
Miss Muguri held her two-year-old daughter, Britanny, who, like scores of children in Nanyuki, is mixed race. “They told me that if I said I was raped by British soldiers and showed them my baby then I would get three million shillings [30,000 pounds],” Miss Muguri said. “I would take two million and they would take one.”
According to Miss Muguri, Britanny’s father is a British soldier, but she insisted that the child was the product of a six-week consensual relationships, not of rape.
“I know it was a lie but they told me if I told the truth I would get nothing,” she said. “This British soldier no longer sends me ay money, or communicates with me. I am very poor. How could I say no?”
Those sort of revelations followed on the heels of Royal Military Police investigators concluding that police records documenting the alleged rapes were in fact fakes created specifically for the purposes of pursuing the IMPACT lawsuit.
According to the Daily Telegraph,
A spokesman at the British High Commission in Nairobi confirmed that the 37 reports expected to form the backbone of the case, the only ones filed at the time of the alleged attacks, had proved to be fakes. The reports had encouraged hundreds more women to come forward.
“I am therefore unaware of any genuine entries concerning rapes by British servicemen in police records,” the spokesman said.
Unfortunately the Royal Military Police have not yet explained how they were so certain the reports were not genuine. British newspaper The Guardian, however, examined hospital records related to the rapes and said that the records appeared to have been doctored after-the-fact to include rape-related materials. For example, there tended to be large numbers of patients allegedly raped by British soldiers added to the end of daily hospital logs, suggesting they were added at a later date.
Writing about the controversy, Wendy McElroy noted that it’s often difficult to sort out whether such allegations are accurate or not because of what McElroy terms the “compensation culture” that is currently prevalent in developing countries that plays on Western feelings of guilt over colonial-era injustices,
A “compensation culture” seems to be spreading through poor nations. This “soak the rich” attitude toward the West draws upon Western guilt over its own prosperity and over historical wrongs, like slavery. This collective guilt is especially undeserved when placed on the blameless shoulders of children born today. It is also likely to harm the credibility of true victims who seek compensation.
It also has the effect of infantilizing the governments of developing nations who often seem to spend more time blaming Western nations than actually trying to solve problems their countries face.
Rape claims are forged, says Army. Adrian Blomfield, Daily Telegraph, September 27, 2003.
New doubt thrown on Kenyan mass-rape claim against UK. James Astill, The Guardian, October 2, 2003.
Prostitutes ‘told to fake rape claims’. Daily Telegraph, October 11, 2003.