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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid