34-year-old Peter Mbiriri was arrested on Wednesday 12th May 2021 by police in Tigoni, Kiambu County for allegedly raping a schoolgirl whom he had offered a lift. It was reported that Peter had offered a lift to two schoolgirls from Kabuku area in Limuru and one of them dropped along the way at St. Paul’s University.
Mbiriri, it is alleged, then took advantage of the opportunity to rape the other girl who was left with him in the car while threatening to inject her with some lethal substance.
The young girl raised an alarm by grabbing the car keys and throwing them out while screaming when she saw tea pickers walking by. They broke into the car, clobbered the suspect and called the police on him.
Violence against children is a common trend and phenomenon that’s happening daily in our homes and communities across the globe. Sadly, too many childhoods are cut short like the case of 15-year-old Christine Makena, a student at Kiteta Girls Secondary School in Mbooni, Makueni County, who reportedly died in a Nairobi hospital after succumbing to injuries inflicted on her by her parents as a punishment using a plastic rod.
Parents and caregivers have a right to discipline their children’s behaviour but using violence as a means to justify a wrong is a gross crime against humanity.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Violence against children and youth includes all forms of physical, sexual and emotional violence, neglect, negligent treatment and exploitation.
It’s about time leaders from governments, private and public institutions as well as the community took a bold step to commit to ensuring that every child has a safe and happy childhood and their rights protected.
When one is violated in whichever form, they get exposed to serious implications on their health and well-being both physical, emotional, mental and at times leading to death and ending up becoming a statistic just like the case of Christine Makena.
In a conversation with 22-year-old Selina Robi, a school dropout in Migori County; the pain and trauma she was subjected to by her step mum forced her to run away from home, drop out of school, and found herself engaging in unsafe sex and drug abuse. She became vulnerable and ended up being a teenage mum.
High risk of violence against children during the Covid-19 pandemic
Many children and their families have experienced major changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Not just because of the restricted measures but also because of the changing demographics and financial constraints faced by a number of households. This poses significant threats or disturbances to individuals, families, or communities whose lives have been dramatically disrupted at many levels and for which our societies were never prepared for!
It is therefore important to note that in the unprecedented situations heightened by the Covid-19 crisis, the risk of victimization of children and adolescents is very high. The economic devastation brought by COVID-19 and the response to it may take years to overcome and could exacerbate economic inequalities, poverty, unemployment, and household financial insecurity.
When a parent is sending her child to school on foot it is because they don’t have much of a choice. They have weighed all the options and have to choose between paying for school transport for the kid(s) or having a meal on the table for the family when they all return home in the evening from their different engagements.
With the reopening of schools and the heavy rains that are being experienced across the country, the lives of many school-going children are in greater danger. Parents and caregivers are thus encouraged to consistently have personal healthy conversations with their children to help them identify the red flags in their daily interactions with different people that they come into contact with.
Globally, it is estimated that one out of two children aged 2–17 years experience some form of violence each year. A number of these are students who have experienced bullying from their peers and a majority of them have been victims of Sexual Gender-Based Violence before they are even 20 years of age.
Preventing violence against children and youth requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the social determinants of violence, such as income inequality, rapid demographic and social change, and low levels of social protection.