Public Defence: Cynthia Khamala Wangamati

M.Phil. Cynthia Khamala Wangamati at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis “Sexual violence against minors in Western Kenya: Community perceptions and institutional responses” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

Trial Lecture – time and place

See Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Professor Katarina Swahnberg, Linnæus University
  • Second opponent: Professor Karen Marie Moland, University of Bergen
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Professor Morten Lindbæk, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Professor Jan Helge Solbakk, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Associate Professor Ruth Jane Prince, University of Oslo


Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a major global health challenge. Research shows that about half of survivors presenting to Kenyan hospitals for post-rape care are minors. Despite the high presentation of minors to health facilities, very few cases are prosecuted. Although minors are increasingly seeking post-rape care services, this is only but a small proportion of CSA survivors. Thus, there is a need to understand how communities and institutions respond to CSA in order to improve service uptake. The main aim of this study is to explore community perceptions of CSA, describe institutional responses to CSA in Kenya, and identify existing gaps in service provision.

The thesis is based on qualitative research in Homa Bay County, Kenya. It draws on in-depth interviews with key informants at institutions supporting CSA survivors, focus group discussions held with adolescents, teachers, community leaders and community members, and a follow up of adolescent girls who had experienced sexual abuse. In addition, we reviewed laws and policies on child sexual abuse in Kenya.  According to our results, poverty, family violence, negative cultural gender norms, orphanhood, peer influence, and disabilities were perceived to influence CSA. The Kenyan laws and policies on child protection give CSA survivors the right to education, free medical and legal aid, privacy, compensation and participation in the legal process. However, they are numerous and pose challenges to understaffed service providers who are supposed to decipher and implement them. Despite the existence of laws and policies to prioritize CSA survivors, we found that minors experienced delays in receiving care at points of service, were charged for free medical services, and lacked privacy and access to psychosocial care. In addition, service providers had limited financial and human resources.

To improve uptake of post-rape care services and quality of care for CSA survivors, laws and policies should be revised and synthesized to improve operationalizability. In addition, more financial and human resources should be allocated to child protection in order to increase service utilization and development of child friendly services.

Additional information

Contact the research support staff.

Published Apr. 26, 2019 12:21 PM - Last modified May 2, 2019 4:16 PM