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ELECTION 2022

Cases of girls’ defilement worrying parents

NYANZA
By By LAWRENCE ALURU | May 21st 2014 | 2 min read

By LAWRENCE ALURU

Every passing day, there is at least a report on defilement, a sex crime against children that is thriving on widespread poverty in Siaya County.

Many parents are now reluctant to send their children to school without a reliable escort.

Other than poverty, the trend is exacerbated by retrogressive cultural myths and ignorance.

Many of the culprits are people living with HIV/Aids who believe having sex with underage girls or virgins can heal them.

Ukwala Girls Deputy Head Teacher Diana Clare Akinyi says many parents relate the act to myths and misconception about HIV/Aids.

“Those who engage in such acts are mainly HIV-positive and believe by defiling the minors, they will be cured,” she says.

In most parts of Nyanza, culture inhibits discussion of sexual violence in cases where family members have been accused of such acts.

SENSITISATION CAMPAIGNS

This further complicates the situation many young girls find themselves in after attacks by rapists.

Siaya County Director of Children Services Humphrey Wandeo attributes the growing problem to many factors, including poverty.

Mr Wandeo says the high number of families headed by children does not make it any easier to counter the abusive attacks.

But the children’s officer notes that thanks to sensitisation campaigns by the Government, many of such cases are now being reported to the police.

He says that in Kenya, survivors often suffer in silence and face significant stigma for their attack.

“Even though the Government is trying its best to curb the menace, survivor support in the form of medical, psychosocial and legal aid, as well as protection is lacking,” he says.

The children officer  noted that despite comprehensive policies on how to handle sexual violence cases, lack of political will in dealing effectively with defilement cases remains an obstacle.

CASES COLLAPSE

Many such cases go unreported and even those that reach the courts tend to collapse owing to the economic conditions of the families. Others fail because, fathers, who are the sole breadwinners of many families are either the culprits or are compromised by the culprits.

They consequently withhold support to their wives who might be the main witnesses, ensuring the cases either fail to get to the courts when they are expected.

One case was dropped in a Siaya court as a result of financial instability.

“I was determined to see this case through but my problem was transport costs for me and my daughter to attend hearings,” a mother whose daughter was abused, said.

Gem Deputy Commissioner Kahindi Kazungu says out-of-court agreements are the major hindrances to the fight against rape and defilement cases in Nyanza region.

Mr Kahindi says defilement cases could be curbed only if the families of the victims would allow cases that are in court to be concluded.

“The only way to reduce the rising cases of defilement in Nyanza is by the families allowing the cases to reach their conclusion,” he said.

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