WORSENED BY COVID-19

Domestic violence pushes more boys into streets — report

Girls are less likely to end up on the streets due to legal protections and help from volunteer organizations, report says.

In Summary
  • Report says unlike for girls there are fewer organisations fighting for boys.
  • Kenya  has 46,639 street people, with seven out of ten being male.
A street boy begS for money in the Nairobi's CBD
DESTITUTE: A street boy begS for money in the Nairobi's CBD
Image: FILE

Rising family strife during Covid-19 is pushing more boys into the streets, a report has revealed.

According to the Global Sister’s Report, increased violence in homes will pour more boys into the streets as, unlike for girls, there are fewer organisations fighting for boys.

“Girls are less likely to end up on the streets due to legal protections and help from volunteer organisations working on their behalf. Conversely, boys are being left to take care of themselves,” the report says.

 
 

Data from the recently launched national census of street families indicates that Kenya has 46,639 street people, with seven out of 10 being male.

The 2019 national census revealed 17,747 men slept on the streets compared to about 2,348 girls and women.

Despite intervention measures such as admissions to care homes, there is still a constant rise in the number of street children in the major urban areas of Kenya including Nairobi and Mombasa.

The report further points out that violence in domestic settings is the largest cause of the rising number of street families.

The Violence Against Children Report 2019 revealed that half of Kenyan children face violence.

In the Global Sister’s Report, interviewed male street children indicated fleeing from mistreatment by families in the cases where parents no longer lived with them or were dead.

This is besides the children having fear of being reprimanded for mistakes at home and corporal punishment by their parents and guardians.

 
 

Thuo, a street boy, and his brother currently spend their nights under a fly-over in Kangemi, Nairobi county, following unrest at home.

He told the Star that staying at home during the Covid-19 pandemic was becoming unbearable as his parents were fighting often.

“My parents quarrel over money and food. It used to happen before but it has become worse during the pandemic that they even fight. It is so hard to live with fighting parents in a single room,” Thuo said.

Having slept in the cold for days before moving to the street, the 15-year-old said his peace of mind was more important than having a roof over his head.

He now looks for menial jobs with his brother at the Kangemi market to afford a meal a day.

“When our parents fight, they also beat us and deny us food. We hope schools reopen soon for us to get the free meals we have been getting. Staying at home is unbearable for us," Thuo said.

The foundation urges the government to invest in social protection and create employment for young people who could be moving to major towns in search of jobs but end up on the streets.

Edited by Henry Makori