This year has started off on a rather sad and heartbreaking note for prospects of an end to — or, at least, a marked reduction in — sexual abuse and violence against children. Some of the most horrid cases of defilement of girls were reported hardly two weeks into New Year.
Indications are that these abuses may be on the rise as the beasts rape, defile and mete out untold violence on minors.
The brutality subjected to the 13-year-old girl from Homa Bay by a gang of men last week, who defiled her and mutilated her genitals, is too much for anyone to bear. How can a human being carry out such brutality on another, more so a child?
Similarly depressing and shocking news emerged from Subukia, Nakuru County. A five-year-old girl went missing on her way home from church. Two days later, her mutilated body was found. She had been brutalised, defiled and then murdered by the unknown gangster(s), who even gouged out her eyes. Police say they have launched investigations and a hunt for the brutes.
In the Homa Bay case, police say they have arrested eight suspects and are pursuing more.
There is also a disturbing case of an eight-year-old said to have been defiled, most likely repeatedly, by a man whom she calls her father. Luckily, the suspect is behind bars as he awaits the hearing of the case. Sadly, the girl’s mother has reportedly been trying to defend the suspect — who is said to be violent and abusive, even to her — over the defilement accusations against her child!
I do not have the statistics, yet but I know that last year had its own huge number of sexual abuse and violence cases against children, both girls and boys. On the receiving end of this brutality of rapists, paedophiles and violent men, though, are mainly girls and women.
In Nakuru, a colleague tells me that a huge number of cases of rape and defilement is pending before the courts, some for years, denying victims justice that is so badly needed.
One such case has been in court for a year. Seven men attacked a Form One girl at Kaptembwa informal settlement, gang-raped her and threw her into a trench, most likely hoping she would die and hide their crime! They are free.
As I pondered the distressing news from Subukia and Homa Bay, I realised that I was not alone. My attention was drawn to a post, on Twitter, by a Ms Wambui, whose profile indicates that she is a social critic.
Wambui said she was angry and her heart was bleeding as she observed that cases of defilement of children — boys and girls — continue to escalate.
“In school, church, at home. Nowhere seems safe for children. What kind of future are we busy promising them if we can’t secure their present?” she wondered.
There were numerous responses to her post from equally angry and concerned Kenyans, who offered what they thought should be a collective approach towards a solution to this evil and to protect children.
But as we demand that the government acts to protect women and children from the clearly rising cases of sexual and gender violence, we must all, individually and collectively, take up the responsibility to deal with this abhorrent crime.
Family members should denounce, condemn and expose any of their own who sexually abuses children or is involved in any other form of gender violence against women and girls. They should not feel guilty exposing such a criminal. If children cannot feel secure in a family set-up, where else can these innocent souls go for protection?
Further, we are all members of our communities. How about us being keepers of our children, women and girls? We should not hesitate to tell on people whom we know as defilers, rapists and wife and child batterers. Let us expose them.
The Judiciary and investigators must also stand up to be counted in dealing with cases of sexual and gender-based violence. Those deranged minds in Homa Bay and Subukia and their ilk must be given the toughest punishment. They should rot in jail, away from civilised society.
If we do not create a secure society for our children, who will?
Ms Rugene is a consulting editor. [email protected]