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Let’s prioritize child protection- Community urged

Residents of Samia community in Busia County have been urged to prioritize child protection to mitigate cases of child abuse and gender-based violence that have been on rise in the recent days.

Speaking during an engagement with the community at Sio-Port police station, World Vision Technical Program manager for child protection Alex Macharia Kariuki urged the state and non-state actors to embrace the dialogue of having a functional child protection unit (CPU) in every police station to ensure justice is served to minors living with perpetrators in the community.

“Establishment of CPUs will among other functions be used as holding facilities just like cells for minors who might have been the victims and thus helping police get required evidence for legal action without perpetrators tampering with evidence when victims go back to their residential abodes,” noted Kariuki.

The child will also have the chance to get legal aid through the various channels in society, including pro-bono services, national legal aid scheme, and Law Society of Kenya, among others.

Engagement with the community aims at establishing a friendly environment between the police and the members of the public to facilitate timely information and safety for the witnesses in the quest for justice.

This comes amid growing concerns over the increasing backlog of cases touching on minors with players decrying the time taken before cases are determined in court due to delays within the criminal justice system and specifically the police.

“It’s sad to say, most violence and or child abuse cases that transpire are usually in family settings. Conversely, the family that should be the epitome of child protection, synonymous with love, good tranquility and protection, is instead being identified with child abuse, violence, neglect and torture,” he added.

According to senior superintendent of police in the Directorate of Community Policing, Gender and Children affairs Fredrick Shiundu, the government remains committed to ensuring safety of every child by engaging with partners like World Vision in establishing CPUs to address child abuse cases.

“Children are the most important asset of any nation and need to be nurtured in a dignified manner where they are protected and have access to all their entitlements for their overall development. But this is being violated due to illiteracy, poverty, culture and ill-will among members of the community exposing them to violence, abuse and exploitation,” said Shiundu.

According to a report by County Children’s officer Esther Wasige, child trafficking cases in Busia stand at 5 percent with teenage pregnancy standing at 21 percent.

“The county is turning into an area of transit, destination or origin of child trafficking. Our figures are much higher than the ones of the national government,” she noted.

A paralegal Sabina Mary Mukabi said CPU is key in ensuring child abuse cases are successive with minimal interference of the evidence from witnesses. She urged partners to join World Vision and the police department in ensuring child protection in Busia is a reality.

“Busia needs urgent intervention in terms of a framework to secure funding to rescue girls and women who are at risk. With the policy, they will be protected and their rights will be upheld,” noted Mukabi.

“For example, if your child is defiled or molested, bring that information out because if you keep quiet, the child is traumatized,” she added.

Globally, in child protection discipline, there has been a paradigm shift from a siloed approach of child protection programming from an individual and family approach to communal and a multi-sectoral approach in order to meet the needs of a child in a holistic manner.

The unit engaged members of the public also at Amagoro and Modine police stations in Teso North and south sub counties respectively.

By Absalom Namwalo

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