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Kenya a major destination for trafficked children

16 June 2014, 16:32 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – As the continent marks its annual African Child Day, Plan International (Plan), a non-governmental children organisation has raised concerns over rising violence against children and revealed that Kenya remains a major destination for trafficked children in Eastern Africa.

Plan’s Regional Director of Eastern and Southern Africa, Roland Angerer said the organisation’s report on violence against children reveals that the victims are still prone to social abuses such as early marriages, child labour and child trafficking among others.

“The study findings indicate that there is still widespread child trafficking in four Eastern African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with Kenya being singled out to be more attractive as a destination country for trafficked children in the 2008 ANPPCAN study,” said Angerer.

Angerer challenged African governments to legislate and ensure full enforcement of child protection laws against violation of children’s rights such as access to education, right to parental support, right to security and right against exploitation through forced labour, commercial sex among others.

He noted that high poverty, economic inequality, unfriendly cultural practices such as female genital mutilation, parental negligence are among underlying causes of rising violation of children rights.

“Current studies show that four in five girls in sub-Saharan Africa will never finish primary school. Globally, one in five girls around the world continues to be denied an education because of poverty, child marriage, discrimination and violence. That girls are less likely to get an education is something we work hard to overcome at Plan, through our Because I am a Girl campaign,” said Angerer.

He added that governments, civil society and other relevant institutions should support needy families in bringing up children, help strengthen capacities for community and religious leaders in advocating prevention of child abuse, support the scaling up of projects for poverty elimination, ensure enforcement of existing reviewed child-based legislations, and strengthen coordination of civil society with governments in the fight for children protection.

“Very little progress if any has been made with respect to harmonisation of customary and religious laws with international human rights standards. Enforcement of existing national legislation with respect to laws on child marriage remains a big challenge due to many factors that include existence of plural legal system, inadequate capacities of enforcement agencies, corruption and limited reporting of child abuse cases to relevant authorities due to deep rooted beliefs in traditions and customs,” noted Angerer.

Angerer further challenged children to effectively participate in consultation and decision making processes pertaining to their fundamental rights.

“Africa’s future is inextricably linked to the future of its children. Every child’s future is inextricably linked to the education they receive,” added Angerer.

Susan Kagendi, a pupil at Gatina primary school in Nairobi noted that an African child still encounters many child abuse challenges thus calling on the continent’s governments to provide them with a secure environment.

“Some children are denied the right to education then introduced to sex work, child labour as house helps where they do odd jobs in order to earn a living for their families. In many cases, children with disabilities are also denied the right to education because their parents think they are a curse and this leads to stigmatisation. Everyone should know that this is not a curse as every child is a God-given gift,” noted Kagendi.

Kagendi challenged the government to provide enough schools and teachers in addition to adequate learning facilities for them to acquire good education.

“The government should also put more effort on campaigns against child labour, female genital mutilation and early marriages. Parents should make sure their children are living in a safe environment by creating time to be with them and invest in their children’s education for them to fulfil their goals and make their dreams come true,” said Kagendi.

She challenged other children to be responsible citizens after completing school to use the acquired skills for economic and national development, and lauded the government for introducing free primary education that has led to increased school enrolment. He however reminded the government to provide the promised laptops.

“Free education has enabled children from all walks of life to have an access to education. I call upon our leaders to invest more in the education sector. Integration of ICT in education has become an acceptable way of passing knowledge and indicating improved results,” stated Kagendi.

The annual African Child Day aims at addressing issues facing children in the continent and to remind governments to ensure legislation and enforcement of child protection laws.

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