Concerns in Garissa over Increase in Child Abuse

April 18, 2024

Leaders, residents, and activists in Garissa are deeply concerned about the increasing cases of child abuse and neglect in the region. Organizations such as UNICEF, the Directorate of Children Services (DCS), Terres de hommes (TDH), and Save the Children are actively working to tackle this issue. Their efforts include developing innovative reporting and documentation methods, implementing child protection measures, offering psycho-social support to survivors, and advocating for increased investment in child protection.

Root causes of child abuse in Garissa include poverty, lack of parental attention, gender-based violence, limited access to child protection services, cultural norms, and traditional values. In interviews, parents, teachers, and religious leaders have stressed the importance of upholding children’s rights as enshrined in the constitution.

According to the STAR, Benjamin Kinyua, the county’s children coordinator, revealed that over 70 percent of the cases his office handles involve neglect by parents or guardians. The approach to addressing issues like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has shifted towards community education on its harmful effects, as well as raising awareness against early marriages.

Ubah Abdullahi, a senior assistant chief, highlighted the increase in parental separations, particularly affecting children aged 10-18, who often exhibit behavioral issues linked to security concerns.

Sheikh Hassan Abdi of Supkem emphasized the lack of parental responsibility and expressed worry over rising divorce rates in Garissa and the larger North Eastern region. He noted the adverse effects on children, including neglect, abuse, and involvement in criminal activities, particularly among those from broken families.

Godana Boru, the county coordinator for the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, underscored the need to include children with disabilities in discussions on child protection. He emphasized that child protection efforts should extend to all children, including those with disabilities.

Written by Esdaisy Njoroge

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