, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18 – The Department of Children’s services has raised concern over the increasing number of parents who settle sexual assault cases involving children out of court.
Director Ahmed Hussein said on Thursday that most parents were using cultural institutions to handle sexual offence cases involving children when they were reported.
He also accused school principals in same regions of ganging up against children who reported such cases, by denying them vacancies when they sought to change learning institutions.
“Here is a situation where a child says I have been defiled; I have been impregnated by this teacher. The TSC (Teachers Service Commission) cannot abdicate its responsibility because they employ those teachers,” Mr Hussein said.
“The police are there and unless the TSC is working in an isolated social environment, they cannot tell us they have nothing to do. They must report the matter to the police, they must take that responsibility,” he added.
National Council for Children Services Chairperson Hellen Waweru said justice was always delayed for sexually abused children.
“Many teachers are sexually abusing the children and most of them are merely transferred to another station. The Education Act is not strict on the issue of the discipline of teachers,” Ms Waweru said.
“That section is outdated because it is really not addressing the plight of the child.”
About two weeks ago, First Lady Lucy Kibaki appealed to Members of Parliament to urgently review the law regarding people engaged in rape to make it more punitive.
She argued that the current laws had stemmed the rise in rape cases and was perturbed by the sexual assault cases especially by teachers. She also wondered why the Kenya National Union of Teachers had not raised it voice concerning the reports.
The Department of Children’s Services has in the meantime expressed concerns over the current instability in the coalition government and said it may lead to displacement of more children.
Mr Hussein said this would lead to a major crisis because there were still many internally displaced children.
He said over 5,900 children were displaced during the post 2007 election violence and hundreds were yet to be re-united with their parents.
Mr Hussein said 906 children were put in children’s institutions while 71 others were mediation cases that had to be sorted out.
“The clashes we had created a very serious disruption of our social fabric. You find where a couple was from different communities, the lady would be accepted back by her community and so would the man and in the process none of the communities would want to be associated with the children,” he said.
“So where do the children belong? That is why we are negotiating between the parents, communities and the children to see whether they will be accepted back.”
National Council for Children Services Chairperson Hellen Waweru said they were no longer interested in registering new children’s homes but wanted to strengthen the existing ones.
“The government approach now is not towards opening new charitable institutions but the main emphasis is for the government and the ministry to ensure that the child is helped from the home, in foster homes or wherever,” she said.