Perpetrators of crimes against children are taking advantage of a prevailing culture of silence among families in the Coast region, where a majority of such cases go unreported, to avoid prosecution.
According to authorities, despite rampant cases of abuse, including trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors, many families of victims have been quiet, preferring instead to settle such issues outside the judicial system.
This, according to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) which oversees the Anti-Human Trafficking Child Protection Unit (AHTPU), is largely attributed to cultural and religious factors.
“Coast region has statistically been silent on reporting atrocities on our children. Some have been trafficked for horrible acts and others forced to do inhuman acts, but families are silent,” DCI boss George Kinoti said.
The Nation has learnt that last year alone, for instance, no less than 200 cases of crimes against children were reported.
Countrywide, crimes against children increased slightly in 2019 where 8,111 cases were reported compared to 8,060 that were reported in 2018, the annual crime report shows.
ABUSERS PUT ON NOTICE
According to Mr Kinoti, out-of-court settlement practices and ignorance of severity of the crimes among coastal communities have seen many cases go unreported.
“We will no longer wait for those cases to be reported. We will go on the ground and get to know if there is any family hiding the cases and get hold of them so that we can prosecute them,” he said.
To deal with the menace, DCI has now partnered with the British government to open an office in Mombasa as it ups its game in dealing with perpetrators.
In addition, the DCI's office in the tourist hub city has also received three vehicles from the UK to help deal with the crimes.
Mr Kinoti said the top-of-the-range vehicles will be used to penetrate the furthest corners of the Coastal region to hunt down perpetrators of child crimes.
The Mombasa office will serve as an extension to the Nairobi one where the Child Protection Unit is based.
The Mombasa office will be located at the Coast regional police headquarters in Kizingo.
The Nairobi offices were opened in 2016 and, since then, at least 1,200 children have been rescued from exploitation situations across the country.
Last year alone, the unit dealt with 52 cases, made 16 arrests and rescued 72 children.
Out of the 72 cases, 32 children were victims of child trafficking and were rescued from Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
In 2018, Kenya and the UK signed the Serious and Organised Crime security pact following a joint deal to tackle Child Sex Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) and child trafficking.