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Child safeguarding in Kenya: Fighting sexual abuse and exploitation


Kenya tackles the hidden threat of child sexual abuse and exploitation with the Children Act of 2022, aiming to provide a safer environment for the children. [Standard, File]

Child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) is a global problem that affects over 400 million children every year, according to the United Nations. 

However, the true extent of the issue remains unknown, as many cases go unreported with no single national database for recording them.

The problem is especially acute in the country, where it is estimated that 42 per cent of children live below the poverty line, exposing them to heightened risks of abuse, exploitation, and neglect due to economic hardships.

Policy makers are calling for stringent measures to address the problem and ensure children’s safety and well-being. They urge the government and other stakeholders to implement and support the Children Act of 2022, which recognizes the care of children in emergencies under social security.

 The Act is aligned with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Africa Charter on the Rights of the Child (ACRWC), which Kenya is a signatory to.However, the Act alone is not enough to protect children from CSEA. There is also a need for robust child protection measures in all educational institutions, where children spend most of their time.

Bridge International Academies - Kenya, a network of low-cost private schools, is one of the institutions that trains its staff and teachers on how to prevent and respond to such incidents and has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of abuse or exploitation.

“We believe that every child deserves a safe and supportive environment to learn and grow. That’s why we are committed to implementing robust child protection measures in all our schools,” says Bridge Kenya Managing Director Griffin Asigo.

Despite these efforts, CSEA remains a serious threat to millions of children around the world.

Policy makers, advocates and entities like Child Safeguarding Association of Kenya (CSAK urge the public to join them in raising awareness and taking action to end this scourge.

Labour and Social Protection Florence Bore says the enactment of the Children Act of 2022 was a milestone for children and aligned with the international conventions on children’s rights.

The law, which is an upgrade from the Children Act 2001, was assented to by former President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 6, 2022.

It is laden with a myriad of enhanced legal provisions that safeguard the rights of children.Among them is raised criminal culpability age from 8 years to 12 years. 

This means a person under the age of twelve years shall not be held criminally responsible for any act or omission.

“I share with you the excitement of enacting the Children Act of 2022, a milestone legislation for our children. It includes Section 12 (2) (f), which recognizes the care of children in emergencies under social security. My ministry is committed to ensuring the full implementation of the Act and providing the necessary support and guidance,” Bore said.

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