Violence in marriages a setback to child rights

Three girls at a rescue centre in Kuria East after fleeing home amid the threat of FGM. April 14, 2022. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

Violence in marriages has been cited as one of the major stumbling block to the rights of children.

According to County director for Children Services Kungu Mwaniki, the vice affects the freedoms and rights of children, including their right to protection and quality education.

Speaking at Mukurwe-ini town as the county marked the Day of African Child, Mwaniki also cited challenges of archaic beliefs like female genital mutilation (FGM) and defilement among challenges hindering the rights of children.

This year’s theme is “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy and Practice since 2013” while the national theme is “Creating a Space for Children to Speak against Harmful Practices Affecting their Well-being”.

The choice of the venue was strategic as two months ago, seven suspects were arrested after subjecting eight minors to the cut. 

Two girls were rescued by officers from the Mukurweini Police Station while six others had already undergone the cut in Muthuthini village during the night ceremony.

Residents said FGM is still orchestrated by a new religious cult known as “Gwata Ndai”. It operates underground ceremonies supported by parents who want their daughters to be circumcised. “We decided to host the Day of African Child in Mukurweini and conduct civic education to locals,” said Mwaniki.

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, established under Articles 32 and 33 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child recognises the importance of the Day of the African Child, as a key support tool for promoting children’s rights and their welfare.

The day traces its roots to the 1976 uprising in Soweto, South Africa in which an estimated 20,000 high school student-led protests occurred in response to the introduction of Afrikaans, as the medium of instruction in local schools.

After the deadly confrontation with police, an estimated 700 persons including 13-year-old Hector Pieterson, are said to have lost their lives. In 1991 the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), set aside June 16 as a time to remember and celebrate African children, as well as inspire a sober reflection and action towards addressing the challenges that children in Africa face on a day-to-day basis.