News / Africa

Violence Against Kenyan Children Excessive, UNICEF Report Finds

A girl walks along a street in the sprawling Kibera slum, in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 26, 2011.
A girl walks along a street in the sprawling Kibera slum, in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 26, 2011.
Jill Craig
Officials say violence against children in Kenya is exceedingly and unacceptably high, with the United Nations estimating as many as 10 percent of girls and five percent of boys have experienced at least one episode of sexual violence in the previous 12 months.

The recently-released UNICEF report on violence against children in Kenya says that almost half of the girls who suffered sexual abuse in the year prior to the survey were molested while traveling on foot.

Vulnerability

Madhavi Ashok, the deputy representative of UNICEF Kenya, notes that many of these children are particularly vulnerable in their own communities. 

“When you get very comfortable in your environment, and you know that the community is the best place to protect you, girls do get comfortable walking to and from school" Ashok explained. "So the question arises then, that you meet somebody on the way that you will least expect that they would be assaulting you or causing this kind of harm to you, is when that happens. So the girls are themselves totally unsuspecting of what is going to happen to them."
 
As the executive director of the Gender Violence Recovery Center at the Nairobi Women’s hospital, Wangechi Grace works with victims of sexual violence on a daily basis. She says that UNICEF’s conclusions accurately reflect what she sees at the clinic. 

“It’s because children will walk, and they’re playing, and laughing and telling stories as they walk home casually from school," she explained. "And of course, the environment, our roads - our environment is not safe. So perpetrators normally are people who know these children. They’ll watch them, they’ll know their timings. They’ll know how they operate. And they’ll even know how to entice them.”

Unsupervised

Grace says that people in Nairobi lead "fast lives", where parents of all income brackets often leave the home before 6:00 am and return later in the evening, in order to provide for their families. As a result, children are left to their own devices, which she says leaves them more vulnerable to abuse.
 
“And if you go to the streets, and I’m talking of any street in Nairobi today, and especially at the estates [low income areas]…and stand by any road, you’ll be amazed at the number of children you will find walking alone,” she noted.
 
And it’s not just happening in Nairobi. Grace says that her team has also carried out assessments of this issue in rural areas of Kenya. 

“A lot of communities confirmed that sexual violence was taking place as children and women go to look for water, as they go to look for firewood, as they go to queue for food,” she stated.

Impact

A mother walks beside her mentally disabled 14-year-old daughter who was raped by a neighbor in Kabazi, Kenya, August 24, 2010.A mother walks beside her mentally disabled 14-year-old daughter who was raped by a neighbor in Kabazi, Kenya, August 24, 2010.
x
A mother walks beside her mentally disabled 14-year-old daughter who was raped by a neighbor in Kabazi, Kenya, August 24, 2010.
A mother walks beside her mentally disabled 14-year-old daughter who was raped by a neighbor in Kabazi, Kenya, August 24, 2010.
The ramifications for the girl are significant, including social stigma and the risk of pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted illnesses.  It may even mean an end to a girl’s education.  UNICEF’s Ashok explains that parents often will remove their daughters from school in an attempt to protect them from harm.
 
“Definitely the mentality of any parent is that they do not want their child to go through this experience. So as the girl reaches puberty, they do watch the environment and if they feel the community is unsafe or the school is unsafe, they are going to stop the girl from going to school," Ashok explained. "Especially in very, very culturally traditional societies where they have had a culture of protection.”

Solutions

But parents may soon have more options to keep their daughters safe.  Ahmed Hussein, the director of children’s services, in the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Development, says the Kenyan government contributed to the UNICEF report and is committed to stopping violence against children.
 
“And as a country, we have already developed the framework for the national child protection system. And we are setting up child protection centers in the counties, to respond to violence and abuse against children. It’s a commitment from the government of Kenya that we are going to implement the recommendations contained in that report. And our minister gave a tacit commitment towards that,” said Hussein.
 
The head of Nairobi’s Gender Violence Recovery Center says last year 41 percent of their patients were children - underscoring the need for the government to take action as soon as promised.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: brothers from: United States
December 26, 2012 4:06 PM
It is sad to read that at this day in time our children are still being treated this way.So please DO SOMETHING NOW!! This can not be allowed to continue at all!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid