The Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ukur Yattani has said the new Children’s Bill 2017 will ensure the Kenyan child’s rights are optimally protected once it becomes law.
The proposed Bill will spell out and strengthen coordination and responsibilities of key stakeholders involved in child protection, according to Yattani.
The CS said his Ministry will lobby Parliament to fast-track the adoption of the new legislation which covers emerging child protection threats.
Online abuse and cybercrime such as online sexual exploitation are some of the new threats covered in the draft Bill.
“Some of these threats were not an issue when the current children’s law was enacted and hence their inclusion in the new law,” Yattani said during the Day of the African Child national celebrations at Menzamwenye Secondary School on Saturday in Kwale County.
He said the Bill was drafted after wide consultations and includes views from children, adding that the Bill also provides for Children’s Assemblies.
“Through the assemblies children will be empowered and have a voice so that their rights are protected,” he said.
The CS lauded the free primary and day secondary education, saying it is proof of the government commitment to the rights and general welfare of children.
The Kwale Governor, Salim Mvurya decried the high rate of teenage pregnancies and early marriages in the region.
Mvurya said the trend was an issue of great concern as it was posing a serious threat to education even as he warned parents against the practice of marrying off their under-age daughters.
“This practice of marrying off children is outdated and it must stop,” he said.
The day was celebrated in the region in the backdrop of rampant child abuse and neglect.
Cases of child labour and sexual exploitation of children, including defilement and early marriages, continue to be a matter of great concern in the county, according to children welfare officials.
Incidents of unscrupulous parents colluding with sex pests to abuse children for money have also been reported in the region.
This has led to child prostitution abetted by some parents who work in cahoots with wealthy tourists and molesters who pay them for the services.
By James Muchai