Healing the Scars – Cases on Violence against Children 2010

Nairobi, August 1st 2011 – Under the reported cases of sexual abuse, the youngest child survivor of defilement during the year under review was a one-year old girl who was defiled severally by her father over a period of six months.

In this case, the child’s mother and aunt who had initially reported the case, were reluctant to follow up fearing for their safety, since it was alleged that the perpetrator was a member of the outlawed Mungiki sect.

The case did not go to court since the perpetrator was never arrested, and the child’s mother was reluctant to follow up to assist in the arrest and eventual prosecution.

Read the CRADLE Report (Brief) on Case and Media Trends on Violence against Children 2010 ‘Healing the Scars’ Milestones, Lessons and Prospects

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Healing the Scars – Cases on Violence against Children 2010

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CRADLE Executive Director Eric Ogwang says  the Case and Media Trends Report, paints a sad picture that threatens that future.

Ojwang says that the fact that children are continually facing all forms of violence in all settings is a pointer to the breakdown of the protective cradle that the society should be to the child.

“Since the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act in 2006, we have experienced an upsurge of reported cases of violence” he says.

Below are some of the occurrences of child abuse as captured in the report

 Family Division

Cases under this category consisted of mainly of matters of; Maintenance, Succession, Neglect, Custody and access

Maintenance cases constituted mainly of parents seeking support towards providing for the needs of their children where one of the parents had neglected failed or refused to discharge parental duties and responsibilities with respect to their children as defined under the law.

Due to the nature of cases handled, The CRADLE employs, in the first instance, non-legal dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation, to get the parents to agree.

This has borne fruit in some cases where parents have mutually agreed on negotiated terms of child support and entered into a parental responsibility agreement.

Legal recourse is sought when the parents fail to agree on terms of maintenance, and one parent refuses to acknowledge responsibility, or where one party fails to honour the terms of a parental responsibility agreement.

Criminal Cases

The criminal cases handled by The CRADLE comprised of were the highest in prevalence constituting of the total cases. They comprised of cases such as child trafficking, physical abuse, sexual abuse, child neglect, child abduction, cases of children in conflict with the law, amongst others.

It emerged that cases of sexual abuse were had the highest in prevalence. These were followed by cases of child trafficking at twenty four percent (24%) and cases of physical abuse at six percent (6%).

With regard to child trafficking, it was noted that children were trafficked mainly for purposes of child labour, sexual exploitation and early marriage.

In a certain case of child trafficking for purposes of early marriage, a 16 year old girl, then a British citizen residing in the United Kingdom was brought to Kenya by her mother who subsequently arranged for her travel from Nairobi to Mandera.

On arrival in Mandera she was received by a person who subjected her to early marriage and domestic violence.

Her mother is alleged to have paid USD$5000 for the child to be married in addition to promising to process documents for the girl’s alleged husband to immigrate to the United Kingdom.

The child ran away and was rescued from the streets by a Good Samaritan who also subjected her to physical and sexual abuse and eventually chased her away.

In another case, a 12 year old girl- was allegedly trafficked from Somalia to Nairobi, where she employed as a house help.

She was thereafter brutally assaulted by her employer was reported to The CRADLE, where follow ups were made and the child was rescued and placed at a shelter while the suspect was later arrested and arraigned in Court.

Children homes were also identified for possible conduits of child trafficking. The CRADLE intervened in one such case concerning a children’s home that was operating illegally and harbouring children who had not been committed to the home through a court order, thus at high risk of being trafficked.

Forms of Sexual Abuse Case Reported

The main forms of sexual abuse reported included defilement, attempted defilement, indecent assault, incest, indecent acts with a child, gang rape and early marriage.

According to the report cases of defilement are still the highest, at seventy five percent (75%) of the total cases.

These are followed closely by cases of incest at eight percent (8%). Cases of attempted defilement and indecent acts with a child, follow closely at six percent (6%) and five percent (5%) respectively.

Cases of child trafficking for sexual exploitation comprised of three percent (3%) of the total cases of sexual abuse

Vulnerability of Children to Abuse

Trends show that girls continue to be more vulnerable to abuse than boys. Of the cases in the category of violence against children, eighty six percent (86%) of the survivors of abuse were girls.

Age

Children in the age category of thirteen to fifteen (13-15) years were the most vulnerable to abuse, followed by the age category of seven to nine (7-9) years and sixteen to seventeen (16-17) years.

The general observable trend in this regard is that children in the teenage bracket thirteen to seventeen (13-17) years are the most vulnerable to abuse followed closely by the pre-teenage bracket, seven to twelve (7-12) years.

Young children including infants were also targeted by perpetrators.

Age of Survivors

Under the reported cases of sexual abuse, the youngest child survivor of defilement during the year under review was a one-year old girl who was defiled severally by her father over a period of six months.

In this case, the child’s mother and aunt who had initially reported the case, were reluctant to follow up fearing for their safety, since it was alleged that the perpetrator was a member of the outlawed Mungiki sect.

The case did not go to court since the perpetrator was never arrested, and the child’s mother was reluctant to follow up to assist in the arrest and eventual prosecution.

Frequency of Abuse

Out of the reported cases of abuse, thirty six percent (36%) of the children indicated that they had been abused once, while in twenty five percent (25%) of cases, it was indicated that abuse took place repeatedly.

In thirty three percent (33%) of the cases, the frequency of abuse could not be ascertained. Repeated instances of abuse were more common in cases of sexual violence and especially where abusers lured or threatened the children to remain silent about the abuse.

Reporting by Geographical Location

Cases of abuse were mostly reported from Nairobi county, followed by Kiambu County. Most of the abuse took place within the child’s surroundings, with the child’s home being the highest at forty five percent (45%).

This was closely followed by abuse in the abuser’s home at thirty four percent (34%).

Gender of the Abuser

Most of the abusers, as illustrated below, were male and represent eighty four percent (84%) of the cases reported.

Age of the Abuser

Most of the abusers range in the age category of 21-25 years, 26-30 years, 31-35 years and 36-40 years.

Acquaintance of the Abusers to the Child

Over the years, it has been observed that most abusers are known to the children. In the year under review, in seventy seven percent (77%) of cases, the abusers were known to the children, while in only eleven percent (11%) of cases were the abusers strangers.

By Ngigi Kamau

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