Two boys have died while at least nine schoolgirls, among them four mentally disabled minors have been defiled since schools closed over Covid-19 in Imenti South, Meru County, local education officials have said.
Imenti South Sub-County Curriculum Support Officer Naomi Njagi said the boys had left their homes unaccompanied before their bodies were found in a market and a quarry.
Two other boys have since disappeared while others have been connected to various criminal activities including sale of drugs.
The mentally challenged girls were defiled by people close to them after schools closed following Covid-19 pandemic.
Five schoolgirls were rescued from a rented house in Igoji Town while cohabiting with boda-boda riders.
“They had gone into hiding. The men and two parents were charged in Nkubu Magistrate’s Court. Only the three parents who reported the disappearance [of their daughters] were spared,” said Ms Njagi.
Ms Catherine Kinyua, an official with the children with special needs department, said mentally disabled girls are vulnerable to sexual abuse.
“When in school, some girls are sexually abused but they encounter a lot of problems while at home. Some are left home alone while tied with ropes as they feed on left overs while some wear tattered clothes,” she said.
The officials were addressing parents and guardians when 200 disabled children received food donations from Nkubu Rotary Cub and Meru Government at MCK Ukuu Primary School on Thursday.
“Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, I have been called four times after four girls were defiled. I followed the matter and the cases are with the chiefs,” she said.
She noted that the greatest challenges with prosecuting cases where mentally disabled children are defiled is identifying the perpetrators. This, he said, leads to the collapse of the cases.
“We want to help the children but they are not able to give good evidence and many cases collapse especially if the prosecutor is not very keen. Sometimes the parents also settle the matters with the perpetrators out of court,” said Ms Kinyua.
The official said schools had feeding programmes and the children were assisted with basic needs but some starved at home since most parents were poor.