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Nairobi - A Kenyan court on Monday awarded a young woman four million shillings (about R500 000) in damages after she was strip-searched by police who said they were looking for drugs.

The incident in August 2015 provoked an outcry in the East African country after images of the half-naked 18-year-old schoolgirl were posted on social media.

She pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana shortly after the incident and was sentenced to 18 months on probation.

In the lawsuit she later filed jointly with a child rights group, the young woman said the photos humiliated her and sought legal compensation.

Kenyan high court judge John Mativo said in his ruling that the student was entitled to the four million shillings because her constitutional rights to dignity had been violated.

The student had been travelling with more than 40 others on a bus home for the holidays when she was stopped by the police.

The court's ruling is a rare victory in the East African country's legal system against the police. Although no police officers were tried or found guilty in the case, the ruling was an acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

A government civilian body exists to oversee the police, but few officers are charged and convictions are extremely rare.