Sexual abuse is rapidly creeping into Kenyan high schools
For generations, authority and discipline have been deeply rooted in African schools — the first environment any child is exposed to outside the family set up. However, this power is easily misconstrued and in many instances results in the abuse of a student’s vulnerability either physically, emotionally or sexually.
In exchange for good grades, treats and most importantly, the fear of infuriating their school “guardians”, many Kenyan youths have been victims of sexual violence in secondary schools. An act which ought to be frowned upon, it is very often swept under the rug to avoid stigmatisation or tarnishing the image of these educational facilities. It is a crime which is rarely reported or suspected until a glaring and possibly life threatening situation is at stake; this could range from teenage pregnancies to HIV. With the current situation of child abuse in Kenya, the authorities have been tasked to dig into the roots of this violence while creating a safer environment.
Kenya’s authorities have banned 126 teachers for “gross misconduct,” finding 96 of them guilty of having sexual relations with students. This course of action is a departure from when The Teachers Services Commission (TSC) would only suspend or transfer offenders. In tandem with this ruling, a child welfare society in Kenya also urged the director of public prosecutions to imprison those convicted so as to prevent harm on other children in future. In the past two years, about 1,000 teachers have been sacked in Kenya for sexually abusing girls, most of which occurred in rural primary schools.
Analysts have also looked into the possibility that poverty is often a factor in child sex abuse in schools. Simon Harris, a British charity worker was on February 26, 2015 sentenced to 17 years and four months in jail for molesting children during his 20-year stay in Kenya. The former teacher from Herefordshire was immediately labelled one of Britain’s most sadistic child molesters to ever live in Africa.
However, the society shares in the blame for failure to report these crimes, forgetting that the psychological trauma of abuse often has stronger effects on a child’s psyche. Kenyan children, especially girls, need to be protected. Geoffrey Cherongis, Provincial Director of education in Kenya’s western Nyanza Province, urged the entire community to cooperate with the authorities in the battle against this fast growing plague. “The government has made it clear that it will not condone the sexual abuse of children in school… but we can’t know unless it is reported to us.”
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