I will allow rape victims to abort, judge Koome tells JSC
Says it is traumatising for a victim to carry pregnancy to term and be tormented for the rest of her life. ‘Some can handle rape and some cannot’
Court of Appeal judge Martha Koome yesterday said she will allow rape victims to procure abortions.
She said it is traumatising for a rape victim to carry the pregnancy to term and be tormented for the rest of her life.
Koome was responding to questions by the Judicial Service Commission during an interview for the post of Supreme Court judge.
She said the law is clear on circumstances in which abortion can be done. “Some can handle rape and some cannot. That is when abortion can come in, especially when the life of the victim is in danger,” Koome said.
The JSC is looking for a replacement for former Supreme Court judge Philip Tunoi, who retired in July.
In her interview for the Deputy Chief Justice position early this month, Koome said any judicial officer accused of sexual harassment should be charged. She said she will set up a committee to which sexual harassment can be reported.
Koome said any employee who joins the judiciary should be taken through the Code of Conduct on sexual harassment.
She said her judgment that former President Daniel Moi should compensate farmer Malcom Bell for land at his Kabarak home was informed by the clause that the former was above the law and could not be sued.
Koome said as soon as Moi stepped down as President, the immunity ended and Bell could take over the contested land currently occupied by Moi.
“Since Moi broke the promise to supply Bell with water and electricity. The only provision in the law was that the latter should take over the land,” she said.
Former Electoral Commission of Kenya officer Pamela Tutui said at times members of the bench influence colleagues on certain decisions.
She said she will not be pressured to allow abortion except on grounds permitted in the constitution.
Tutui said even in adverse psychological effects to a mother, termination of a pregnancy should not be an option.
“There is a lot of debate on the abortion issue and many people argue depending on the side they want to look at it. Even when a mother cannot afford to raise the baby, it cannot be an excuse for abortion,” she said.
Justice Martha Koome after the interview at the Supreme Court yesterday. Right, Justice Philip Tunoi on May 31