According to a US NGO USAID, the county residents rarely report child abuse and neglect since more than 80 percent of these cases end up in Kangaroo courts.
Of note it is the continued practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among the Boni community in Lamu County which leads to early marriages and pregnancies which have gravely affected the education standards in the region, the USAID report revealed.
The report given at a child protection forum in Lamu revealed further observed that Lamu is among four counties where child abuse cases have largely gone unreported with most of these cases ending up being resolved by informal courts. Other counties include Wajir, Samburu and Marsabit.
Speaking to KNA in Lamu on Saturday, USAID Nilinde Programme Officer, Diane Rop called on religious leaders, village elders and chiefs to lead by example by ensuring that perpetrators of child abuse are brought to book over their crimes.
Child abuse cases in Lamu are common despite the low number of reported cases and this largely means that perpetrators usually carry out their crimes with complete disregard of any serious consequences, Rop stated.
She stated that despite the stiff sentences put in place by the law, there continues to be a worrying trend that child abuse cases, especially defilement, is going on unabated in certain parts of Lamu, because of the presence of Kangaroo courts.
These informal courts are usually comprised of village elders, clerics and chiefs who adjudicate child abuse and defilement cases, which usually translates into fines and penalties to the detriment of justice for the victims, the NGO official stated.
She urged clerics and village elders to be at the forefront of championing children’s rights and issues which she added continue to suffer especially in Lamu.
There are numerous cases not only of defilement in Lamu but also child neglect and child labour which needs to be resolved with the help of these stakeholders, the USAID official stated.
She further noted that truancy and child marriages are the major problems in Lamu County with a need to resolve the high rate of such cases. Child abuse cases also contribute to the high number of school dropout cases.
There is need for an inter-agency effort to assist child officers and social workers resolve child abuse cases, especially in a county as vast as Lamu which has numerous child abuse occurrences, with very few reported cases, Rop stated.
She urged Lamu residents to also make use of the Child rescue helpline which is toll free of 116 which will assist in rescuing victims.
Source: Kenya News Agency