It is not yet clear whether this is because of closely guarding outdated traditions or a pure negligence on the part of the parents to monitor their children, but the naked truth is that the trend has an impact on the future generation.
Figures at the Kilifi county children office point a bleak future with the society being asked to come out and support efforts to end child abuse in the region.
Kilifi County Director of Children Affairs George Migosi said in an interview that a day hardly passes by without his office recording a case of child pregnancy.
“In some cases it is a young boy impregnating a young girl, all below the age of 18 and still in the care of their parents. But these cases only reach to us if there have been some disagreements in their kangaroo courts. But we believe that most of these cases go unreported,” he said.
Kilifi County has an estimated population of about 1.5 million people according to the 2009 census. 65 percent of these people live in the rural areas where poverty, hunger and family dejections are highly recorded.
But it seems this trend, however deep rooted is in the communities, it is still getting attention, not only from the judiciary but also some organisations working in the region that have come out to assist in ending the vice.
Early this month, two middle aged men were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Kilifi court for defilement. Nichodemus Yaa alias Kabombo and Moses Kadenge Mudavadi were found guilty of defiling four and eleven years’ victims respectively. In the same court, Bahati Katana was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempting to defile a three years’ old child.
Kilifi Resident Magistrate Leah Juma found Mr Yaa guilty for defiling his nephew aged four, at their home in Chumani village in Mastangoni location in July, 22, 2016.
The judgment was greeted with applause from Kilifi residents who said the sentence is a clear change for the community and that it should desist from engaging in the vice.
Commenting on a WhatsApp page named Ganze Rebirth after a reader pasted a copy of the Daily Nation news item, area MP Teddy Mwambire said that was a milestone and hence people should desist from engaging in child abuse.
“At least the courts have done something. I want to tell the people of Ganze and Kilifi in general that they should understand the rights of the children and protect them. If they will continue with this trend, then I am sure the court is awaiting them,” he said.
But the efforts seem to be even getting better day after a day. Now the county shall get a Sh10 Million Child Protection Unit where abused children will get counselling, medication and legal address to their predicaments.
County director of children affairs George Migosi told the press in his office that the Sh10 million project undertaken by Plan International will be a one stop centre equipped with facilities to address the plight of abused children.
“The construction of the centre will take six months to complete and the contractor is already on site. The facility was given to us by Plan International as efforts geared towards assisting and also keenly address the plight of young boys and girls,” said Mr Migosi.
The centre, he said among other inputs will have a police, medical and legal desks that will be fully manned by officers to timely act on the cases as they are reported.
“We are optimistic that this entire problem will get the proper redress that has not been there for years,” he said.
Mr Migosi said the assistance from Plan was timely taking into consideration the soaring number of child abuse cases that his office has so far received for the last one year.
“Between June last year and June this year, we had recorded 7,678 cases of child abuse with child negligence by the parents topping our category of abuses we recorded in the county,” he said.
Statistics at the county children office show that child negligence is still a menace in the county as it formed 70 percent of all the child abuse cases.
“We had a total of 4,091 cases of child negligence, with Malindi Sub county topping the regions where many cases were reported. It had a total of 2,134 cases that were reported compared to Rabai Sub county which had the least reported cases at 134 cases,” the director said.
Mr Migosi termed the high number of reported cases in Malindi as a breakthrough since as the society speaks, it means more progress is made in the effort to address child abuse.
He however raised an alarm over the number of underage sexual abuse he said needed every person to raise their voice on the same.
“For the last one year, we recorded 89 cases of child marriages, 321 cases of defilements and 182 cases of child pregnancy. Ganze topped with 48 the number of child pregnancy and was followed by Malindi which had 44 cases.
Malindi topped the list of the sub counties with the highest number of defilement cases where it had recorded 120 cases by June.Malindi and Magarini topped with 20 cases of early marriages,” said Mr Migosi.
He said poverty and neglected by parents was the reason the county continued to record a soaring number of the abuses.
He pointed out that boda boda riders were still a hindrance to the efforts to end the problems and called on the society to take charge of the situation and address it.
“Hardly a day passes by without reporting a case of children pregnancy. Under age children are becoming young mothers and fathers and this trend is worrying. It needs an every person approach to the same so that we can eradicate it,” he said.
County police commander Waciira Mathenge called on the community to support police efforts in addressing the child abuse cases.
“Remember every police station has a gender and children desk where we capture these cases. We need the society and the community at large to support us as we pursue these cases,” Mr Mathenge said.
The police boss said in most cases, some of the witness fail to appear in court when these cases are being heard, a reason many of them are thrown out by the courts for lack of evidence.