By Renson Mnyamwezi
Police have arrested a Standard Eight girl for allegedly dumping an infant in a pit latrine in Taita-Taveta County.
Taveta OCPD Paul Kisang said the girl, who is in police custody, would be charged once investigation is complete.
Provincial Administration officials alerted police and with the help of villagers retrieved the baby boy from the pit in Mboghonyi village.
“The infant is being examined at Taveta Hospital,” said Kisang. The incident comes at a time when the Government is grappling with increased cases of child abuse in the region. Education and Provincial Administration officials said early pregnancies are to blame for the high school dropout rate.
Taveta District Education Officer George Owuoche said four cases of early pregnancy in primary and secondary schools have been reported.
“We’ve been experiencing high incidents of early pregnancies and marriages among schoolgirls and something must be done to rectify the situation. Some students are married off by their parents to Tanzania for commercial purposes,” added Owuoche.
At least 500 cases of child abuse were reported in the region last year. Human rights groups say the cases involved child labour, negligence, sexual exploitation, prostitution, early marriages and pregnancies that have exposed children to the risk of contacting HIV.
Taita-Taveta Human Rights Watch chairman Haji Mwakio said Voi District is leading in child abuse cases followed by Wundanyi, Taveta and Mwatate districts. He noted children drop out of school to engage in anti-social activities like prostitution.
“High poverty levels, breakdown of families and widespread consumption of illicit brews and drugs are also to blame,” added Haji.
The research conducted by the human rights organisation, police and the Children’s Department shows that female genital mutilation and gender violence have also been on the increase.