NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 28 – Over 30,000 cases of child abuse were reported in Kenya over the past 10 years through a national child helpline service 116.
A report released by Childline Kenya Tuesday indicates that child neglect, sexual abuse and physical abuse incidences totalling to 13,878, 7,832 and 7,317 of the 33,929 cases reported between the year 2006 and 2016, accounted for the lion’s share of abuses against minors.
The data which was collected from the helpline run by Childline Kenya also indicates that cases of child labour (3,123), emotional abuse (1,025) and child trafficking and abduction (528) were rampant over the 10-year period.
According to records, immediate family members, neighbours and unspecified guardians are among key perpetrators of child abuses which were more rampant in the years 2012 (6,974), 2008 (5,490) and 2011 (4,853).
Speaking to Capital FM News after realising the report, Childline Kenya Board Chairperson George Okado said most of the victims of child abuse remained unattended to with only 48 per cent of calls made getting the attention of the child protection organisation.
“People are waiting for too long because we only have about 24 counsellors on a daily basis and therefore people are unable to wait for 10 to 15 minutes,” said Okado.
Okado however said plans are underway to upgrade the capacity of the 116 helpline by ensuring more centres are opened up in counties to enhance the reporting of cases of child abuse.
“We started off with an expectation of a certain number of children but now when they exceed the maximum, the telephone system cannot handle it and so we are constantly challenged to increase the number of counsellors and improve the telecommunication system,” he said.
“We’ve set up a call centre in Eldoret but we are hoping to have call centres in all the counties so that if a child is abused in Mandera for instance, there are people who can attend to him/her at that level,” he added.
According to the report, there were 6,084,461 attempts to reach 116 countrywide with only 2,901,856 successfully received by the available counsellors.
A total of 3,182,605 calls of over the six million calls made were however dropped due to inadequate capacity within the call centre.
Cases of prank and silence on the other side of the line were also high and could have hampered the ability of victims to report. There were 2,868,005 calls classified as such.
Nairobi County led in the number of child abuses of various nature with Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Kakamega featuring prominently.
There were however very few cases Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) reported from Elgeyo Marakwet, Kajiado, Kisii, Migori, Nairobi, Narok, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties despite such cases being practiced in most of these areas excluding Nairobi.
In West Pokot for instance, there were no FGM cases reported between 2014 and 2016.
According to the statistics, biological fathers and mothers contributed to a half of the number of FGM cases reported at 17 and 33 per cent respectively.
Unspecified parents mostly believed to be guardians and grandparents contributed to up to 50 per cent of FGM incidences.
Apart from child abuse cases, the 116 helpline also responds to other concerns affecting children which numbered to 37,036 between 2014-2016.
888,209 calls made during this period were either prank calls, blank/silent, calls with insufficient information or unrelated to the helpline.