It is every parent's wish for their child to feel safe and protected. Any decent parent will do anything to remove their child from harm’s way. But what happens when the person is most likely to cause irreparable damage to your child is a relative?
Cases of child defilement in Kenya have been on the rise. Reportedly, majority of the abuses are committed by close relatives of the child, and as a result, many go unpunished. In some instances, the parents aid and abet offenders in getting away with it. You will find that most parents are unwilling to cooperate with the prosecution of an offender when this person is a close relative of the family. This is because of fear of stigmatization and shame from the society. Instead, they opt for settling the matter without the involvement of authorities or worse still, punish the child. In doing so, these parents are emboldening the offender to continue abusing other victims.
As a society, we should condemn families that settle pedophilia issues in-house just because it is a relative. Remaining silent gives power to the stigma and allows offenders to continue abusing other children. We are the gate-keepers to our children’s innocence and as it stands, we are truly failing in our duty. If we do not protect our children, who should we protect?
In November 2019, former chief justice, Willy Mutunga formed a 17-member taskforce chaired by court of appeal judge, Martha Koome mandated to review Child Law, highlighting the challenges faced in bringing offenders to justice. The Taskforce’s findings revealed the reality of minors being denied justice while offenders walk away scot-free.
Furthermore, in most cases where offenders are in the process of being prosecuted, they often bribe their way out to freedom. Also, prosecution of this cases can at times be lengthy, gnawing away at a child’s willingness to share their testimony.
It is easy for close relatives to groom a child and sexually abuse them because they constantly interact. In some cases, these predators succeed because parents have a poor relationship with their children. The child fears that by telling the parent they are being preyed upon by a close relative, they will be punished.
An end to this from of abuse starts at home. Carefully consider the people your child interacts with and know what it is they are exposing your child to. If a child reports sexual abuse, they should be given the appropriate support and the case thoroughly investigated. Some minors have resorted to committing suicide because they were not believed or were unable to recover from the emotional and mental damage they suffered as a result. If we allow families to continue covering up such cases, as a society, we are committing an injustice to our children. We must stamp out this issue for the sake of our children.