• In a 2019 survey by International Justice Mission, an estimated 20,000 girls and boys were victims of different forms of child sex trafficking in Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.
•Last year, the numbers dropped to about 6,000 because of the Covid-19 containment measures, which restricted movement.
Every day, Kenyans are subjected to depressing news of children being defiled, sex trafficked and in some cases killed by their molesters.
Some of these perpetrators are walking free even where there is glaring evidence of such acts being committed to girls and boys.
What is more depressing is that not all of these cases are reported due to fear and intimidation from the perpetrator and in some instances, relatives of the molester out to protect their name.
In some cases, the perpetrator bribes the family of the victim or buys their silence. Worse, in some cases local administrators — chiefs and their assistants — and unscrupulous police officers work with the perpetrators to deny victims justice.
This chain is quite disturbing since most victims live with trauma for the rest of their life. The most depressing thing is that all this is happening without society speaking strongly against it to put to an end to such atrocities.
International Justice Mission in a 2019 survey estimated that 20,000 girls and boys were victims of different forms of child sex trafficking in Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale. Last year, the numbers dropped to about 6,000 because of the Covid-19 containment measures, which restricted movement.
These depressing numbers should be a wake up call to the government and society in general with a clear message that it is time to up the game on surveillance, investigations, and protection for our children, even as the world observes the 16 days of activism that ends on December 10.
Gender-based violence is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue.
IJM senior manager Aggrey Juma says there is a high prevalence of child sex trafficking in Mombasa.
He says, “The 20,000 are not only children who have been abused but they were abused in an environment that allowed for their trafficking, which means some adults also paid other men for this to happen.”
This has made the institution seek solutions.
In this day and era, we still have people conveying a child to sex traffickers to be exploited or giving something of value to this child for them to be exploited sexually.
When you speak of sexual violence, the numbers are even high than what is reported. Does it mean we as a society have accepted to live like this?
Children play a major role in the continuity and development of the country. In essence, they are the future leaders who will shape policy development and interventions in all spheres of governance. The welfare of all children should thus be a top priority.
Specific to children was the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child (1959), the first major international instrument exclusively devoted to children's rights. It introduced the principle of the best interests of the child to guide decision making that would ultimately affect the children.
Kenya ratified that UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990.The Organization of African Union, now African Union, adopted the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child in recognition of socio-cultural peculiarities of the African child.
Concerted efforts on children rights date back to 1948, during World War II, when the UDHR codified human rights to include humans of all age categories.
With this knowledge, the persecution and conviction of such cases should be prioritised but this is not the case since prosecutions are still low.
Despite the commitments and existence of laws and policies on GBV, little progress has been made with the prosecution being hampered by lack of support from the legal systems and other related factors. Many cases go unreported and for the reported ones, survivors hardly get justice.
Is it a case of the authorities and the judicial system sleeping on the job or are these cases viewed as less important?
Last week, the Office of the DPP created a Child Justice Unit within the Children’s Division to enhance prosecution. The unit is made up of prosecutors from different counties and also child friendly interview rooms in seven counties.
DPP Noordin Haji said the move is intended to enable a fast response to children’s issues. "On the other hand, the introduction of the Diploma in Public Prosecutions will ensure that prosecutors are well equipped to implement and undertake their duties professionally,” Haji said.
The move, he said, is as a result of the realisation that the child cases were generally complex and sensitive in nature, and it was necessary to minimize the risk of discrimination and undue stress for children in the criminal justice system.
This comes at a time when almost every jurisdiction in the world is grappling with juvenile delinquency.
EU Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger said the guidelines would ensure uniformity in how children are handled within the criminal justice system in all counties.