Alarm over high defilement cases during pandemic school break

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Pregnant schoolgirls. Activists have called for establishing of more children’s courts across the country. Photo/PD/FILE

Barely three months after the closure of schools on March 15 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a wave of teenage pregnancies has revealed how homes are increasingly becoming unsafe for the youngsters.

With children out of school due to the covid-19 pandemic, one would assume children’s safety is guaranteed considering they are under the care of their parents but this is not the case as many have to contend with the risk of sexual predators prowling villages and towns across the country.

Besides the alarming 4,000 teen pregnancies reportedly recorded in Machakos during the Covid-19 pandemic period, an almost similar fate has befallen thousands of other teenage girls in Kakamega, Trans Nzoia, Homabay and Narok where a total of over 2,200 new other cases have been reported.

This is as per fresh statistics separately released during celebrations to mark the Day of African Child on Tuesday.

In Trans-Nzoia, at least 200 cases of sexual violence against children have been recorded in the last three months.

This is according to records at Trans Nzoia law courts. Senior resident magistrate Cherono Kesse, who is also a children’s magistrate, says the surge was experienced during the pandemic period, adding that a majority of such cases has gone unreported.

In Homa Bay, county director of children services Peter Kutere said that 1,985 children violation cases were recorded between June of 2019 and May, 2020 whereby more than 95 per cent of cases of child right violation reportedly took place at home.

Establish courts

“Ndhiwa Sub-county leads with the highest number of cases at 518 followed by Mbita at 395 and the least being Rachuonyo East at 93 between June 2019 and May  2020,” Kutere said.

The director revealed that cases of child neglect are prevalent in the county with 944 cases reported followed by custody with 598 cases.

“We also have other cases such as parental child abduction, missing children, abandonment, defilement, physical abuse among others,” the director said.

In  Kakamega, county coordinator of children services Richard Masika said cases of defilement have maintained an upward trajectory since January.

He cited Malava, Shinyalu, Ikolomani, and Lurambi Sub-counties as key hotspots for child rights violations.

 According to Masika, Malava alone recorded 72 defilement cases between January and April.

And in a bid to ensure expeditious administration of justice, he appealed for establishment of more children courts in the county, which has only four courts that are “not enough to offer quick and efficient justice”.

In Narok, children stakeholders have lamented increasing cases of defilement during this pandemic season as schools are closed.

Speaking during celebrations of the Day of the African Child, Narok Chief magistrate George Wakahiu said defilement cases that have so far been reported this year are 48 cases compared to 79 defilement cases that were reported the whole of last year.

Most of the cases, he said, involve children aged between three and 16, adding that the culprits of defilement are people who are well known by the children.

“It is rare that you find an outsider defiling a child. The people who live close to the children and are well known to them are the main culprits of defilement,” he said.

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