Nakuru Women Representative Lisa Chelule has put on notice parents, chiefs and village elders who settled cases of defilement through Kangaroo Courts after receiving some form of compensation instead of reporting them to the police for legal action.
Ms Chelule said it had been brought to her attention that some parents were silenced with as little as Sh10, 000, Livestock or bags of millet to drop the cases.
The Women Representative said she was closely working with police, religious institutions and Community based Organizations to ensure disciplinary action is taken against government officials convening informal courts or tolerating settlement of sexual offences out of court.
“We shall go to those villages where people make local arrangements. We shall arrest anybody, including the parents, who engage in these backroom deals while they compromise the future of their children. These girls are underage, so we cannot talk of either compensation or consent. It is actually defilement. This is a question of sexual assault, which makes it a security threat,” Ms Chelule said.
Speaking while issuing bursary cheques worth Sh9 million to 900 needy students from the 11 sub-counties, Chelule said she was impressed that the law enforcement agents have not relented in pursuing suspects believed to have impregnated the minors.
“We are committed to checking the rate at which girls are dropping out of school. Education officials, chiefs and law enforcement agents have been tasked to ensure girls are retained in school. It is government policy that those already pregnant or affected in any way be counseled so they can gain the courage to resume studies after delivering,” she added.
In February this year, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui singled out Molo, Kuresoi South and Kuresoi North as having the highest number of defilement cases in the County.
“These regions are recording the highest school dropout rate of girls aged between 12 and 17 years due to pregnancies. This must stop henceforth, it is unacceptable and I am calling on chiefs and village elders to be in the forefront in identifying the culprits so they can be made to face the law. Some of these defilers are walking free after messing up the lives and education of young girls. The resolve to fight this menace must not lose steam,” the governor had said.
Ms Chelule said that investigations had established that defilers enticed minors with Mandazis, Kangumus, soda and sanitary towels before abusing them sexually.
She urged Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha to ensure that all primary and secondary school learners had access to adequate sanitary towels.
“We will not condone outdated cultural practices including FGM and early marriages. Parents who abdicate their responsibilities would not be tolerated either. We are no longer monitoring what our children are doing and are thus getting exposed to irresponsible behaviour.
FGM has been contributing to this sad state of affairs as girls feel they are eligible for marriage after undergoing the rite. Chiefs are under strict instructions to arrest any parents or elders who sanction early marriages,” warned the women representative.
Last year, 52 cases of teenage pregnancies were reported in Kuresoi North with Ms Chelule suggesting that schools in the affected region be equipped with boarding facilities for girls as a way of mitigating the menace.
“Most interactions between the minors and defilers happen when the girls are heading to and from schools at dawn and in the evenings. Boarding facilities will ensure that girls are safe from sexual predators,” she said.
The Ministry of Education has since threatened to arrest parents whose underage daughters get pregnant and they fail to report those responsible to the police.
The ministry also warned that parents who enter into social arrangements with the offenders to circumvent the law would be arrested.
By Jane Ngugi and Dennis Rasto