Sexual violence against children in Africa

Posted on July 28, 2016 01:49 pm

Africa has the second largest children population in the world after Asia and it is heartbreaking that the recent cases of sexual violence against children that have emerged in several countries across continent, the perpetrators have gone unpunished.This has raised a question in my mind: What has happened to Africa’s morals?It was the recent gang rape and murder of a 11-year-old student in South Africa that brought the serious threat of sexual violence against children into my consciousness. The tragic incident of the kid, who was brutally raped and killed by 10 men on her way home from school, has led mourning parents and deeply upset rights activists on a search for effective measures to prevent sexual violence against women and children in South Africa. This may be just the tip of the iceberg. It is likely that many cases of sexual violence against children are never reported to the public.In the latest case, a 12-year-old girl, a high school student in Kenya, was reportedly gang raped. The most alarming fact is, according to the Kenya Police Service report, six perpetrators of the crime are all still underage. Three perpetrators are reportedly high school students while the two others are elementary school children.During their questioning at the police station, it was revealed that the sexual abuse had started seven months ago. Both the victim and the perpetrators were living in an area in middle class estate.It was the victim’s childhood friend, who reportedly first molested the ill-fated girl when she was 11 years old. In his testimony to the police, one of the high school kid said he molested the girl almost every day. He later reportedly had often forced the girl to take a kind of pill from the time she entered elementary six, making her addicted to sex and drugs until the present. Knowing that she was addicted to sex, in May this year, the high school boy started to invite his friends to rape and molest the victim in a group. The gang rape cases in Kenya have been widely condemned by all sections of society.The imprisonment of children found guilty of criminal offenses has been long debated in Kenya but little progress has been made.

Based on data available, the number of cases implicating children reached 4,800 in 2016, a drastic increase from 300 in 2011.The Kenyan government has made addressing violence against children a priority in its policy agenda. It is also committed to making significant progress in protecting Kenyan children from all forms of violence.As one of its key measures, Kenya has adopted the national strategy to end violence against children and the child protection.National action plan, which gives a comprehensive framework to prevent and respond to violent incidents.Non Governmental Organisations that focus on children says such a framework is critical to ensure the protection of children whether they are at school, home or in public spaces. It is expected that the framework will help Kenya achieve its Sustainable Development Goals particularly the one that states the need to ending violence against children by 2030. Several organisations have praised Kenya’s commitment to join partnerships that have been designed to become technical and funding sources for the implementation of the national strategy to end violence against children while at the same time, it gives a forum for sharing ideas and learning from each other.According to Nigerian government data, violence against children is common in Nigeria. A 2014 study found 29 percent of children aged 11-16 years reported having been attacked at school. However, several areas were not included in the study, including domestic and sexual violence. Therefore, the Nigerian government said, it was highly important to collect comprehensive data to discover the extent of violence against children in Nigeria.The gang rape cases in different parts of Africa have also shown that many factors can trigger sexual violence against children. These include excessive exposure to pornography, the absence of proper sex education for children, deep-rooted poverty and widespread use of alcohol. Stricter alcohol rules and tougher sanctions for sex crime perpetrators might be crucial in preventing sexual violence against children.  A school curriculum that neglects moral and character building has also been singled out as one of the causes of the crimes. Hence, it is not too much to say the rape cases have rung the bell, telling the African countries it is time to start developing an education system that builds the good character of students.

Contador Harrison