NAIROBI: The catalogue of heart-breaking reports on defilement pouring in from across the counties makes for depressing reading.
The mere thought of how heartless brutes take advantage of poor young girls (and boys) to fulfil their sexual appetites is stunning.
Even worse, the vice is growing. In the last three months alone for example, a disabled Likoni teenage girl was separated from her biological mother after it emerged she had been defiled several times by different men with the knowledge of her mother.
In Kakamega, a 12-year-old girl paralyzed from the waist down in Bukura was defiled by a neighbour known to her. In Ndumberi, Kiambu County, a man allegedly defiled his six -yea- old step-daughter before murdering her and stashing her mutilated body in a suitcase. In May, Embu Senior Resident Magistrate Vincent Nyakundi sentenced Josphat Namu to 50 years in jail for defiling three nursery school girls. Namu was found guilty of defiling, sexually assaulting and indecently touching the minors.
In Migori, an 11-year-old minor is seeking justice after a 58-year-old teacher allegedly defiled her on her way from school, in a bush a few kilometres from school. The teacher admitted the crime at the Migori Police Station. Incidents that involve teachers defiling young pupils are on the rise,but a court ruling last May has the potential to open a floodgate of lawsuits.
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The High Court ordered the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to pay two minors who were defiled by a teacher Sh5 million. Justice Mumbi Ngugi also reprimanded TSC for failing to curb rising numbers of rogue teachers.
The common thread in all these stories is that as a society, we have failed to curb the growing crime of sexual abuse especially among our children.
The existing laws still remain ineffective to curb the crime. Add the complicity of family members and even mothers to protect the abuser and you have a recipe for an unstoppable crime. So what is the way forward?
It’s time Parliament seriously considered establishing a sex offender’s registry for all accused and convicted sex offenders to brand the accusers who currently easily get away with the crime. Their act stigmatises their victims for life.
It’s about time, like in the Old Testament, when after Isaac killed his brother Abel, he was branded, named and shamed, for us to protect our children. Here is how a sex offender registry would work.
It would act as a central criminal record registry for all convicted sex offenders to ensure their acts are on record and accessible to potential future employers, associates, neighbours and the criminal justice system. It would ensure future employers can recognise predators from the list of shortlisted candidates for, say, a teaching job at a high school or factory.
In the state of New Jersey in US for example, the offences requiring registration include aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact if the victim is a minor and endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in sexual conduct or through acts involving pornography featuring a child. Convicted sex offenders would be required after serving their time to fill out a registration form and submit it to their local police station where they reside.
The form would request personal information of the sex offender, including home address and place of employment. This information would be stored by the national police in a Sex Offender Registry. The information and nature of conviction would then be accessible to the public should they request the same. For example, if you suspect the local teacher is abusing children or is accused of rape, you could request the local police to confirm if the individual is a registered sex offender. If confirmed, the information would form the basis of a police investigation.
The information in the registry would be shared freely if the offender lives within say five kilometres of a local school with the school administration. Teachers registered as offenders would find it hard to work at another school and would be constantly on the watch list of local administration. Sex offenders convicted in one county would be required to register within say two weeks of moving to another county. This is a unique opportunity to stem the tide of growing defilement cases and protect our children from predators.