ABUSES EVERYWHERE

Kenyans failing children on their rights

In all spheres we have mistreated our children and given them a raw deal.

In Summary

• Even religious leaders who are supposed to provide safe haven are themselves busy molesting the young innocents.

• Even the elderly, security agents and professionals such as lawyers are not left out.

This week, Haki Africa received a complaint about the disappearance of a four-year-old girl called Anuda Mohammed Abbas. The girl is from Mtopanga in Kisauni, Mombasa county.

On the day she disappeared, Anuda was coming from school in the afternoon with her eight-year-old sister when they met a female stranger who offered to buy them viazi karai.

Anuda in her natural child innocence quickly accepted the offer while her elder sister declined and continued on home, leaving Anuda with the stranger. According to witnesses, the stranger took Anuda into a waiting private saloon car and drove away. One week later, Anuda is still missing. The family and Haki Africa are desperately searching.

From Mombasa to Kisumu, Marsabit to Magadi, Wajir to Isbeania, cases such as Anuda’s are rife in Kenya. Children are abducted, kidnapped, exchanged, never to be reunited with their biological families again.

Nearly two decades ago twin sisters were separated by a hospital only for them to discover each other on social media after 19 years. Since confirming they are biological sisters, Melon and Sharon have vowed to stay together and do what they can to make up for lost time. They have also decided not to sue the hospital that was responsible for their separation immediately after birth.

Abuses of children’s rights are the order of the day in many communities. Defilement, sodomy, genital mutilation, child prostitution and even murder of young children, including toddlers, have continued to be reported unabated.

As a society, Kenyans have continually failed their children. In all spheres, whether social, political or economic, we have mistreated our children and given them a raw deal. Abuses of children’s rights are the order of the day in many communities. Defilement, sodomy, genital mutilation, child prostitution and even murder of young children, including toddlers, have continued to be reported unabated.

Even religious leaders who are supposed to provide safe houses for children are themselves busy molesting the young innocents, whose only mistake is to trust in the men of the cloth. Our children are crying out for help to have their rights respected and protected.

Article 53 of the 2010 Constitution provides for the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all children. Article 53 (1) (d) specifically states that, “Every child has the right to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, all forms of violence, inhuman treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitative labour”.

Yet, despite these guarantees, many children’s rights continue to be violated with impunity. The police and security authorities are failing in their duty to serve and protect children from abuses and are themselves engaged in violations. It was reported a few months ago that in Tana River county a chief and Kenya Police Reservists allegedly beat a child to death.

While there are professionals such as lawyers who are expected to defend children’s rights, they too seem to have crossed the bridge and are instead violating their rights. According to media reports, a learned friend in Nairobi has allegedly been sexually molesting children under his care.

Too many single-parent families are evidence of irresponsible parenting. Both parents must be present and visible in children’s upbringing.

Even the elderly are not left out, last week it was reported to Haki Africa that a grandparent in Mombasa has allegedly been burning her grandchildren with hot iron as punishment. Where do children then go for safety and protection?

Statistics show that children under the age of 18 constitute about 50 per cent of our population. Unlike other societies such as Japan, which has a huge number of the aged, Kenya’s future is in its children. We must, therefore, protect children’s rights if we are to realise our potential and take Kenya to the next level.

To begin with, the government should be more serious in implementing children’s policies. Programmes such as free primary education and laptops should be fully implemented to ensure maximum benefits for the children. A specific police unit should be established to address children cases. Many are the times when police have treated children cases too casually.

Parents must take their roles seriously. When parents expose their children to drug abuse and child prostitution, it says a lot about us as a society. Too many single-parent families are evidence of irresponsible parenting. Both parents must be present and visible in children’s upbringing. As a society, we have a duty to do better for our children.