Siaya High Court Judge Lady Roseline Aburili has warned that serious action will be taken against parents who blatantly neglect their children by exposing them to sexual abuse or exploitation.
Speaking during a stakeholder's workshop meant to craft a child protection policy, Justice Aburili noted that some parents have exposed their daughters to sex pests who pounce on them while on their way to the shops or market during the evening.
“We have realized that some cases of defilement that have ruined lives of school-going girls in the community were mistakes of parents because most of the victims were attacked while they were heading to the markets or shops after 7:00 pm,” Aburili stated.
"Going forward, the police should not pardon parents or guardians who have turned up in their stations to report cases of defilements," she added.
Aburili also noted that parents or guardians of the victims should be paraded at the courts to be charged with neglect if proven to have caused their daughters such trauma. She regretted that those who should protect their children were the ones abusing them.
“It's so unfortunate that those abusing girls in Siaya are their fathers or close relatives. The high percentage of new infections of HIV/Aids in Siaya has been spread by the youths(girls) who failed to reveal their status to their boyfriends,” she added.
“The issue is so disturbing and as chairperson for the Courts users Association, we plan to organize a meeting where the clergy and opinion leaders across Siaya will provide advice that would reverse the ills and vices that are destroying families,” Aburili alluded.
Cases of sexual abuse
According to research conducted by health workers, Siaya had 73 cases of sexual abuse among children between 0-11 years between January and June.
The research also revealed that 1086 females between 12 and 17 years were sexually abused within Siaya; Bondo (418), Alego/Usonga (363), Gem (36), Rarieda (93) and Ugenya (176).
Zilpa Imbuye a HIV coordinator disclosed that the spate of HIV cases witnessed in the county was because victims did not seek Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services on time.
“As we think for the policy document, we must also invest on advocacy so that the multitude that miss the 72 hours PrEP services can be reached so as to prevent more cases,” Imbuye stated.
She also revealed that within the six months of research, 71 children aged between 1 and 9 years tested positive for HIV.
“In the six months period, 17 girls aged between 10 and 14 years were also infected with HIV," Imbuye added.
Similarly, 15 males aged between 10 and 14 yeats had tested positive for HIV within the same duration.
Imbuye also noted that only 22 out of 72 children defiled were able to seek medical assistance.
The children stated are aged between 0 and 11 years.
Child protection policy
In the wake of the rampant cases of child abuse reported, the directorate of children services has partnered with agencies to implement the process of formulating a child protection policy.
“I am happy to announce that the USAID has partnered with the directorate of Children services to initiate the process of formulating a child protection policy adding that it’s through that MOU that we have gathered here as key stakeholders to deliberate on thematic areas that will form the policy,” Jamin Konyango, the director Children services stated.
He additionally stated that the policy document which is informed by various acts and statutes under the custody of various stakeholders will streamline activities of the two levels of government with each understanding its full mandate in handling children’s affairs.
“This policy framework we are developing will guide priorities, and commitments that the county would be making with the national government towards the realization of the child rights,”Konyango stated.
“Kakamega, Turkana and Narok are among counties that have crafted the policy but we would be strategic since its timely since the Children’s act 2022 that commenced on July 26, 2022, so those who did theirs prior arw required to re-align it with the law,” Konyango added stating that they will also incorporate the policy on the Siaya’s CIDP.
He further stated that the context of the policy yet to be developed will be drawn from international and regional publications.
“We shall have a document that captures the spirit of the international conventions for the policy to be used as a yardstick for collaborations,"he stated.