Kenyan parents cautioned on child abuse

April 5, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5- Parents are now being challenged to be vigilant and identify signs of sexual abuses in their children in order to protect them from the long-term effects of the crime.

Nominated Member of Parliament Millie Odhiambo said on Monday that cases of sexual violence were on the rise and thus parents needed to be taught how to recognise symptoms and behaviours in their children that could help them realise that they are being violated and take action.

“A lot of times, there are tell-tale signs that parents and caregivers fail to see so we need to have a very high index when we are dealing with our children. We need to be very keen when our children are reaching out to us and we need to believe them when they tell us that they are being abused or they are likely to be abused,” she said.

Statistics show that majority of molesters are known to children and Ms Odhiambo called on the need to also involve the community and educate them on what steps to take incase a child is sexually assaulted.

“The Child Rights Advisory Centre has launched a campaign dubbed ‘72hours’ to tell parents or children that when they are sexually abused, they should reach a doctor within 72 hours, otherwise the evidence will be compromised,” Ms Odhiambo added.

It is estimated that one out of three children in Kenya is sexually abused but only one out of 10 such cases is reported.
Although the Sexual Offences Act is progressive in trying to deal with the abuses, the MP pointed out that more needs to be done to create awareness among the public which would hopefully reduce such cases.

The few lawyers trained to deal with molested children, she added, and the inefficiencies at the Judiciary present a challenge in the fight against such abuses.

The MP spoke during a press conference to unveil two books that address issues of sexual violence and human trafficking.

Nicole Braddock Bromley the author of ‘Hush’ and a survivor of sexual abuse said victims of abuse should be encouraged to break the silence as the first step towards healing.

“Silence perpetuates abuse, protects the offenders and it also allows victims to continue being victimised for the rest of their lives. My book is to let people know that sexual abuse is happening in places where we least expect it but it is wonderful that we are beginning to stem out child sexual abuse,” said Ms Bromley.

At the same time, Abidemi Sanusi author of ‘Eyo’ called on African governments to put in place stringent measures to curb human trafficking.

In the late 1990s, Kenya was considered as a transit point for human trafficking but this situation has changed today as the country is both a country of origin and a destination country for traffickers.

A Bill presented by Ms Odhiambo on counter trafficking in persons has been published and is due for its first reading in Parliament soon.


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