Archive for October, 2009

Chilling reports about child abductions, child molestation as well as child trafficking continue to make headlines, sending terrified parents, the police and child rights organizations on high alert. More shocking are the profiles of the offenders, who would normally pass for ordinary law-abiding citizens; the people society would otherwise trust with their children: school teachers, church leaders, neighbors, relatives and even shopkeepers.

The abduction, molestation and even trafficking of children are cruelties that have existed for a very long time. A concrete solution is yet to be found and many children, guardians and parents continue to live in fear not knowing when or where the cradlesnatcher will strike next.

Many cases of child abuse, molestation or trafficking go unreported. Gilbert Onyango, the Deputy Director of CRADLE, a children’s legal aid service, says recently, Central Kenya has reported a lot of these criminal acts. Reports from Nairobi show that crimes against children have a prevalence in informal settlements

Chilling reports about child abductions, child molestation as well as child trafficking continue to make headlines, sending terrified parents, the police and child rights organizations on high alert. More shocking are the profiles of the offenders, who would normally pass for ordinary law-abiding citizens; the people society would otherwise trust with their children: school teachers, church leaders, neighbors, relatives and even shopkeepers.

The abduction, molestation and even trafficking of children are cruelties that have existed for a very long time. A concrete solution is yet to be found and many children, guardians and parents continue to live in fear not knowing when or where the cradlesnatcher will strike next.

Many cases of child abuse, molestation or trafficking go unreported. Gilbert Onyango, the Deputy Director of CRADLE, a children’s legal aid service, says recently, Central Kenya has reported a lot of these criminal acts. Reports from Nairobi show that crimes against children have a prevalence in informal settlements (slums). It is not clear whether this incidence of violation of children’s rights in the Central and Nairobi Provinces due to their proximity to Nairobi, or that the relatively high number of reports on crime against children in these provinces is attributable to citizen’s levels of awareness.

The more knowledgeable the people are the greater the possibility of reporting of child abuse is high because adults are motivated by their understanding of the importance of reporting the matter and seeking help from the police and child rights organizations. The high level of reporting is not an indicator of the absence of menace in other regions of this country.

CRADLE’s Gilbert Onyango reckons that poverty, unemployment changes in culture occasioned by emerging technologies and the degeneration and collapse of governance systems are to blame among other dynamics. Lack of jobs, he says, results in the desperation that drives one to abduct a child and demand for ransom.

Legislative factors may have also contributed to this rise. The slow paCradle Snatcher: A Society’s Anguishce with which court cases are handled could deter many guardians or parents of victims from reporting incidence of crimes against children. Other than the cost and time, there is also the risk on the psychological well being of the child. The effectiveness of the Government policies to protect children is subject of debate. “The law has fooled us. It is not enough. That is why we at CRADLE are currently lobbying for the Human Trafficking Bill and the Victim Support Bill,” says Mr. Onyango.

Who exactly is the sexual abuser? Can parents and members of the society easily identify potential threats to their children? While an ordinary criminal would be easily identified by their looks, mannerisms or even past criminal records, a pedophile at first glance could pass for an ordinary person. According to Onyango, an opportunistic abuser can be a stranger unlike the sexual abuser (pedophile) who is often times someone the victim trusts and knows from previous social encounters. Many of the abusers have turned out to be the victims’ relative, teacher, house-help, shopkeeper, and even next-doorneighbor. “Research by CRADLE indicates that 70 per cent of the victims’ abusers are known to them,” adds the advocate from CRADLE.

One thing the police and the citizens of this country can agree upon is that a solution be found. Onyango feels there is a need to first focus on changing people’s attitudes. In Africa a male child grows up with the notion that they should be strong; undignified actions against them, such as sodomy are shameful and a failure on their part to protect themselves. CRADLE confirms that in every 100 cases of child abuse reported, 90 of the victims are girls. Onyango says their organization has been on the forefront in making sure that the community is made aware of the existence of this problem, its extent as well as expressing hope that they can get legal help when they need it. Through its programmes, Onyango confidently says the impact is positive and many more Kenyans are receiving help. He, moreover, adds that parents need to be on their guard and report all cases to the police and the Directorate of Children’s Services (DCS) for investigation.

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