The government has urged the clergy to use the pulpit to sensitize the public about children’s issues and condemn incidences of violence against children.
Speaking in Nairobi on Friday during the closure of a three-day Inter Religious Conference on Ending Violence Against Children in Kenya, Labour and Social Protection, Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said that the faith community has a great role in preserving traditions, culture, and morality.
“I call upon you all, to use your position of power and influence norms, practices, advocate for human rights and dignity in the areas where you operate because you have a very wide network on the ground,” the CS said.
He noted that the government in collaboration with its partners is determined to raise awareness on violence against children and reduce it by 40 percent by 2023.
Chelugui stated that in 2018, a census report of street families in Kenya found that children choose to live and work in the streets due to poverty, death of parents, separation/divorce, abandonment, mistreatment by parents or relatives, tribal displacement, inadequate food at home, fear of being reprimanded, corporal punishment and domestic violence.
“To stop violence against children, all of us have to deal with these push factors,” Chelugui said noting that the strategic actions guided by the conference have been outlined.
He called upon the religious leaders, families and other stakeholders to take up and fast-track the fight to end violence against children.
Chelugui reiterated that a multi-sectoral approach coupled with a general society approach is necessary to ensure everyone plays their part in ending all forms of violence against children.
He echoed the government’s commitment to protect children from all forms of violence as demonstrated through development of various policies, legal frameworks and programs meant to safeguard their rights and welfare in the country.
“As the Ministry responsible for Children matters, am calling upon all of us to take up our responsibility to protect them and to speak up whenever we spot violence against them, and in so doing, we shall be answering God’s call,” Chelugui said.
National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Secretary General Rev Canon Chris Kinyanjui implored on the government to adequately fund the child protection structures and plans to ensure effective implementation at the National, County and Sub- County levels.
He said this will ensure faith institutions are substantially represented for proper networking and reporting mechanisms.
“Religious institutions have a responsibility to integrate child protection in all their teachings, sermons, and structures and use their various platforms to promote children protection by campaigning against negative cultural norms, and delegitimizing practices that violate children,” said Rev Kinyanjui.
The Conference which is being guided by the theme “End Violence Against Children: Dialogue for Action,” was convened by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem), and World Vision Kenya (WVK).
Recent data from the State department of Child Protection Information Management System (CPIMS), for the period of January to June 2021, shows a record of 105,759 cases of Violence Against Children, out of which 93 percent relate to neglect of children, with two percent being cases of physical abuse.
By Mical Imbukwa