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January 24, 2019

There is no illegitimate child in the world

Children are the leaders of tomorrow.They are affected in various ways by the conduct of the parents or their guardians. Many a times the social and psycho-development of the child is disrupted immensely by parental differences.

The international community has made immense efforts to address the plight of children through various international instruments that seek to promote the welfare of children .

The state on its part owes the child a duty of care just like the parents.Towards discharging this obligation, the Kenyan government has set up a host of measures and safeguards to address the plight of children.

The constitution and the Children's Act provide for the rights of the child. This new development has been propelled by the fact that there have been shocking revelations of how children are subjected to abuse, suffering, neglect and a myriad of other problems. This could even be emotional and psychological violence. The differences between parents affect the wellbeing of their children.

 The importance attached to children by the society is losing meaning drastically. Innocent children are getting exposed to domestic violence whenever the parents vent their anger towards each other.

Many children are being trafficked, poisoned, strangled, hacked, abandoned and drowned by their own unloving parents every other day. What has happened to humanity?

The constitution spells out the rights of every child which includes, among others, the right to parental care and protection, which includes equal responsibility of the mother and father to provide for the child, whether they are married to each other or not.

This position is reinforced by the Children's Act No. 8 of 2001 which provides that a child shall have the right to live with and to be cared for by his parents.

 Some innocent children are discriminated against on the basis of gender. Some of our laws have also been promoting the inequality when it comes to the issue of children born out of wedlock by retaining terminology like the infamous ‘illegitimate child'. There is no illegitimate child in the world.

The constitution and the Children's Act both provide for non-discrimination of children on whatever ground and therefore the expression ‘illegitimate child’ is demeaning to the child being referred to. It offends and violates that child’s dignity.

 Today, marriages face a lot of challenges. Some of these challenges can be avoided but some cannot, prompting parties to run away from one another.

The marriage and divorce laws in Kenya provide for judicial separation in the event the differences between spouses become irretrievably irreconcilable. However, as parties pursue whatever they think is beneficial to them, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

In order to protect the rights and interests of the child, the children's court has been established in almost every county as well as children's departments in almost every district to make sure that the wellbeing, rights and interests of the child are observed to the letter. The police have powers to arrest parents who mistreat and or neglect their children.

It is advisable that parents in their efforts to solve their differences should do it privately rather than in the presence of their children. Whatever parents do or decide should serve the child’s best interest.

Errant parents can be charged in a court of law under the Children's Act which provides that where any person willfully or as a consequence of culpable negligence infringes any of the rights of the child shall be liable to imprisonment, or to a fine or both.

Parents should at all times follow the judicial process to solve marital issues affecting the marriage rather than taking the law into their own hands, doing harm to innocent children.

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