Boom! 378,397 adolescent girls in Kenya aged between 10 and 19 years became pregnant in the period between July 2016 and June 2017 according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Kenya. Among them 28,932 were aged between 10 and 14 years, while the rest 349,465 girls were between 15 to 19 years. In my understanding there is a thin line between teenage pregnancy and child sexual abuse. The age of sex consent in Kenya is 18 years and any sex act with a child below this age is considered as defilement which is punishable under existing laws.
They say in Kenya to get attention of ladies you need to own something that consumes gasoline, emits smoke and can move from point A to B. Sadly in rural Kenya a motorbike or Power Saw will do. The Boda Boda guys are riding high on their bikes, and unfortunately they are reciprocating the same to naive rural girls wreaking havoc all over Kenya, ‘Come on Tony’.
Now before you are on my case, I did not say they are the only perpetrators but this is an emerging trend that needs to be addressed as it threatens to run out of hand. Sad! teachers have also gone rogue and are ‘teaching’ practical lessons not found in the current 8-4-4 system to young innocent girls. The religious leaders are reading “scripts’ that cannot be found in the holy books and family members, domestic workers as well as neighbors are offering unconventional ‘care’ to the little ones.
Many cases of child sexual abuse go unreported for lack of information, preservation of family dignity where family/relatives are involved, ignorance and fear of complexities in the justice system. This calls for scale up in sensitizing community members as well as making the children aware of the available reporting channels. The care givers should also be trained on how to identify signs of sexual abuse in children and necessary actions to take thereafter.