MOMBASA, October 25 – First Lady Lucy Kibaki has called for thorough and swift investigations into the sexual violations that occurred during the post election violence.
She asked the special investigations police team that was established recently to gather credible evidence which could ensure the perpetrators are punished.
The First Lady said she was saddened that many women and children suffered sexual violence during the post election crisis and expressed concern over reports that cases that were reported were not appropriately addressed.
"I take this opportunity to urge all survivors of rape and sexual assault to report the crimes to the police. I also advise them to seek medical attention and other support services for purposes of ensuring their physical, psychological and emotional health," the First Lady said during a fundraising dinner for Mombasa’s Wema Centre which caters for destitute children.
The First Lady helped to raise Sh7.1 million. She gave a personal donation of Sh1 million.
During the occasion she emphasised the need for communities, the civil society and charitable organisations to play a greater role in providing care to vulnerable children.
The First Lady pointed out that the government could not effectively cater for all vulnerable children single-handedly despite initiating a wide range of measures to help them. These include allocating Sh579 million for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children programme this financial year.
"This program which targets households that provide care and protection to orphans has helped many disadvantaged children who would otherwise have ended up on the streets in search of a livelihood," the First Lady said.
Mrs Kibaki said so far 30,000 households were receiving a cash transfer of Sh1,500 per month towards the upkeep of orphans.
Commending all those organizations involved in children programs, the First Lady challenged them to strive to do more in order to cater for the increasing number of disadvantaged children.
In particular, Mrs Kibaki urged the corporate sector in the country to invest in sustainable programmes that would benefit children as part of their corporate social responsibility.
"Indeed, we need to move beyond traditional charitable contributions and embrace broader principles of corporate social responsibility that view the welfare of children as part of the corporate agenda," the First Lady said.
Noting that currently Kenya had an estimated 2.4 million orphans, the HIV/Aids pandemic continued to claim lives leading to an increase in the number of destitute children while the post election crisis early in the year orphaned many others, Mrs Kibaki said the need for joint effort to support vulnerable children cannot be overemphasised.
"In the absence of parental care, these destitute children can only survive through the support of every one of us as members of their community. There is, therefore, need for us all to work together and ensure that these children have a fair chance in life rather than perish on the streets," the First Lady said.
Beyond the rehabilitation of street children, the First Lady emphasised the need to protect children from sexual violence which, she said, was on the increase.
Observing that the incidence of commercial sex tourism among children remains a matter of great concern, the First Lady said she was glad that the International Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism introduced in 2006 was addressing the problem.
In this connection, Mrs Kibaki urged those in the tourism sector, especially proprietors of hotels, villas and boarding houses to sign up to the code and help save the lives of Kenyan children.
She reminded Kenyans that an effective legal framework for eliminating sexual crimes through the Penal Code, the Children’s Act and the Sexual Offenses Act, was in place asked them to report parents and individuals engaging in or exposing children to sexual exploitation.
Said the First Lady: "You only need to call 116 which is the 24-hour free helpline the Ministry of Gender and Children Affairs has put in place to facilitate timely reporting of cases of child abuse."
She commended Wema Center for their continued efforts in rescuing street children and thanked all those supporting the centre’s activities, saying their assistance will go a long way in ensuring that more children are rescued from the streets and provided with an opportunity to learn and grow into secure, confident and resourceful people.
The Executive Director of Wema Centre Lucy Yinda appealed to the government to establish a system of honouring corporate bodies that support charitable work citing the example of tax credits that have been enforced in other countries.
Mrs Yinda said she had initiated a countrywide campaign called "Chunga Mtoto" and urged individuals and companies to stop being passive bystanders but too take action against all perpetrators of child abuse or those who facilitate sexual exploitation of child molestation.
"We need a safe environment for our children, in housing estates, villages and towns and I am therefore appealing for very deliberate effort and action," said Mrs Yinda.