Nearly 800 children were abused in Kenya in the first half of 2016, according to the latest data.
The child welfare organisation Childline Kenya says that three of four abuse cases could cause irreversible physiological and mental damage to the children. The abuses were sexual and physical and of neglect.
Fifty early marriage, child abandonment (49), child labour (44) and trafficking (13) were reported.
Girls still bear the biggest brunt of abuse in 90 per cent of the cases. However, the data shows that boys are more likely to be neglected – 94 girls versus 104 boys – as well as targeted for physical abuse (96:102).
Ms Rita Munyae, the communications officer of Childline said that the cases may be higher than the data she gave the Nation because “the society interprets abuse only as the extreme cases of inflicting bodily harm and Childline had difficulties in the past in collecting the information and reaching the children.”
Ms Munyae said that she could not attribute the rising cases of child abuse to one thing, but listed poverty, ignorance and the society’s attitude as factors.
Nairobi County leads in all cases of abuse, including early marriage, which one would expect to find in rural counties especially among pastoralists.
Generally, urban areas lead in the abuse (as listed below in a descending order), with Nairobi followed by Kiambu, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu and Uasin Gishu.
The counties that reported the least cases of abuse are Mandera, Isiolo, Tana River, Marsabit, Samburu and Wajir. This ranking may, however, not be an indicator of an absence of abuse but a flaw in data collection.
Ms Munyae said that more than 97 per cent of those who abused children are people the children know.
“It is not news that less than three per cent of those that abuse children are strangers,” said Ms Munyae.
Most of the abuse go unreported because the person responsible is a family member such as the father.