The COVID-19 pandemic has tested humanity in every way possible. The measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus have led to various disruptions in all spheres of life, ultimately affecting individuals, communities and the world at large. In early May 2020, child welfare organizations warned that the COVID-19 lockdown measures will increase cases of child maltreatment. This includes the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and neglect of any person under 18 years old.
The first COVID-19 case in Kenya was reported in March 2020. This was followed by measures such as closure of schools and colleges, restrictions of public gatherings including places of worship, curfew that ceased movement between 7:00 p.m. and 4.00 a.m., stringent safety measures on all institutions in the economic and social sectors. There was also a worldwide call for individuals to #stayhome to control the virus.
Childline Kenya, through the child helpline 116, has noted an increase in the child abuse reports since the enforcement of the measures to control the spread of the virus. Child Abuse reports from March to June 2020 have increased by 41% to 531 compared to a period of 4 months (November 2019 to February 2020) before the onset of COVID-19 in Kenya where 376 cases of violence against children were reported. The highest number of reported cases are defilement, child neglect and physical abuse which account for more than 71% of all reported cases. This is alarming!
Clearly the COVID- 19 crisis and resulting containment measures have had a drastic effect on the economic sector. The massive loss of jobs and livelihoods has affected the economic power of individuals to provide basic needs for themselves and their families. This has contributed to the raising cases in child neglect. Though reports of child maintenance and neglect were rampant pre-COVID the pandemic has evidently exacerbated the situation.
The closure of schools has also contributed to the increase in child abuse cases. Children have more time at home. Helpline data reveals that 60% of perpetrators of child abuse are close relations to the child. In Kenya, schools are set to resume in 2021. Children will be spending more time at home with little to no structure in their days and with the breakdown of social structures they are at risk of abuse. Some of the children are now forced to #stayhome with the perpetrators.
Children are the unseen victims of the pandemic. The rights of children are being overlooked as nations turn their attention to fighting the pandemic. Despite the pandemic, children’s rights must stand. Children still have rights. At Childline Kenya, we continue to fight for children’s rights. We work 24/7 through the national child helpline 116 service to offer psychosocial support to children as they deal with the pandemic and the issues that emerge as a result of the pandemic. Through the helpline, Childline provides psychosocial support including counselling, child therapy and family therapy. We work with partners to provide access to medication, safe shelter, legal aid, education support, reunification with families and reintegration. Childline also actively educates the public on child safety, working with key government agencies and child protection partners in all the 47 counties. All this is possible with support from development partners and individuals of goodwill.
We would like to thank our donors for your generous contributions to the work of Childline Kenya. We need each other now more than ever to Shine A Light on Child Abuse. Continue partnering with us to keep a child safe from abuse and leave no child behind in child protection.
Internet is our current reality globally.In the course of our work Childline Kenya engages with children who are at risk of exploitation and those who are victims of exploitation on the online space as well. In the past one year than 205 such cases have been reported with girls seemingly more vulnerable than boys. This quarter we present one of the cases we have handled related to child online safety with support from our donors including the GlobalGiving community.
A 15-year-old orphaned girl lives with an uncle and his family in Kisumu County. She is in class 6 at a local primary school. Her guardians presented her to the children’s office with the concern that she had a habit of running away and disappearing from home for several days at a time. During interrogation she revealed that she owned a smart phone, which her guardians knew nothing about, and which she hides at a friend’s place. Through this phone she was able to access internet and various social media platforms.
A certain 20-year-old man had been grooming her since November 2018 when she got the phone. The suspect used to send to her sexually suggestive texts and photos of himself. Sometimes, the child would go visit his house where she would be touched inappropriately and defiled. The last ordeal happened in the first week of December 2019.
In December 2018, while on Facebook she also received a friend request from a stranger calling himself ‘2000’. The person behind the account requested her to send photos of herself in skimpy dressing making sexually suggestive poses, and in turn she would receive USD10 per photo. The child did as she was asked and promptly received the money. From then onwards, she kept sending her photos to the stranger and each she had gotten paid. She said that the account kept changing its identity and the money she received via Mpesa came with different names for each transaction. The last Facebook contact between the child and the stranger happened in November 2019.
The child was placed in a safe shelter where she is receiving regular counseling services from Childline Kenya while her case is being handled by court.
2019 has been an amazing child protection year for us. This means that we have been able to help and give hope to thousands of abused children. For your support we heartily thank you.
Child neglect and abandonment is the root cause of all forms of child abuse. A child who is left without protection, provision or guidance is one exposed to greatest forms of abuse. Such is the case of Debby and Jane (Not their real names) aged 7 and 12. A concerned teacher called the Helpline to report the abandonment of the girls. The mother of the girls was said to be unemployed and may have considered her children a burden. She left home one day and never came back leaving the children to their own devices. Their daily sustenance was dependent on the porridge portions they received in school and handouts from well-wishers. The girls resorted to begging on the streets after school as what they received was never enough. This further exposed the girls to the risk of defilement, especially when neighbours noticed that men were visiting their home seeking sexual favors in exchange for money and food. Luckily for the girls, the neighbours would intervene and chase the men away.
Matilda (Not her real name), teacher to one of the girls got suspicious after she heard one of the girls complain of stress as she didn’t know what her and her sister would eat that night. This prompted an investigation which revealed that the girls had been abandoned by their mother for a while. Matilda promptly reported the abandonment to Childline Kenya through the national child helpline service 116. Now in the hands of the helpline, the children’s officer in the area was contacted. The children’s officer took the girls to a safe house while he traced the whereabouts of any of the girls’ relatives. The father of the girls was traced within weeks of the girls’ rescue and they were reunited with their father. The girls may have been abandoned but because of the helpline that exists for them, they found a listening ear and a solution was found for their crisis.
Your donations help us remain available to all children including those abandoned children. Partner with Childline Kenya, help us be available always to children.
Childline Kenya is thrilled at the response so far to stop child abuse in Kenya. We would like to thank our supporters who made it possible for us to successfully participate in the July Bonus Day event and the Little by Little Campaign in August. The amounts raised will assist Childline Kenya to respond efficiently and effectively to the children who reach out to us for support everyday. On behalf of all the children who will benefit from this support I say, Thank you very much for believing in us entrusting us with your money to keep children safe.
Childline Kenya’s success is heavily dependent on the people who decide to rise to the occasion to promote child protection and ensure children enjoy being children. We therefore salute all our supporters for the great work. It is you that are changing the lives of Kenyan children with every call you make and each coin you donate to Childline Kenya.
The common saying ‘I’m a phone call away’ is one that we often take for granted. At Childline Kenya, however, we make this a reality and we are indeed a phone call away-Always. We are available to all the children of Kenya 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; playing our part in ensuring that children’s voices are heard and their rights and dignity upheld at all times. Day after day Childline receives hundreds of reports of child abuse in its various forms. We are working tirelessly on and off the clock, responding to “the known” and “the unknowns”. There may not be a name or a face to the child but our dream is to give a voice to every child.
Meet one of our unknowns
Name of the child: unknown
Age: unknown but speculated to be between 9-11 years.
Home: unknown but suspected to be from the Western region of Kenya
Type of abuse: Unknown but suspected to be physical abuse
This case was reported by a concerned neighbor who would only hear the child crying in pain almost on a daily basis. The neighbor did not know what exactly was happening to the child but suspected foul play. Moved with compassion he took the first brave step and called the Helpline 116. He feared that he would not be heard because apart from his deep conviction that the child needed help, he did not seem to have any additional information regarding the child or the actual situation. He feared that it would be dismissed as unsubstantiated speculation. He was pleasantly surprised when the helpline counselor confirmed that something would be done about the case. A rescue team was constituted to conduct a home enquiry, the outcomes of which confirmed that the child in question (a boy) lived with his uncle and aunt who abused him physically by beating him every day with metal objects leaving him with scars all over his body. Although he was of school-going age, he was denied the right to go to school and was also overworked. In addition to that, he was left to care for a two year old child despite being a child himself.
Childline Kenya contacted the relevant authorities and the boy was rescued and taken to hospital for medical attention. He was also placed in a temporary safe shelter where he would to go through counseling as more permanent and family based care was sought for him. The perpetrators were arraigned in court and the boy has since been reunited with his primary family who though poor have great love for the boy and are committed to keeping him safe.
Such cases are reported everyday by a neighbor, teacher or other concerned people in the communtiy. With your support, we can make the process more efficient; improve response time, provide better health care, shelter and safe houses following a rescue as we await a verdict. This will go a long way in creating a safe environment for a child especially after children undergo such traumatic experiences.
We ask for your financial support to help Childline give a voice to the voiceless, rescue an “unknown” child and move them to safety and hopefully reunite them with their family.
Keep a child safe from abuse; partner with Childline Kenya.
Childline continues to make great impact in child protection one child at a time. Everyday more than 3,000 calls are made through the national child helpline 116 service. Some of these calls are of children who are survivors of various forms of child abuse including sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse. Childline is committed to ensure the little voices of the affected children are heard and they receive the immediate child protection services required including counseling, legal support, medication and temporary shelter. Financial support through our GlobalGiving partners makes it possible for Childline Kenya to coordinate the access to these services for free or for very subsidized rates to the children and their families. This quarter we highlight the case of a teenager who is a victim of circumstances and who is taken advantage of continuously in the name of saving her mother's marriage. A total of 25% of all child abuse cases reported to Childline Kenya were of various forms of chid sexual abuse similar to the example presented. This is alarming and must be dealt with head-on so that children are protected from abuse in such great numbers. Thanks to GlobalGiving this is possible a dollar at a time to help Childline reach a child at a time to shine a light on child abuse in Kenya.
Ruth a 15 year old girl will become a mother in August 2019 adding on to the number of teenage pregnancies currently being experienced in the country. Her mother re-married after divorcing her biological Father and they all moved to their new home. As soon as they settled in Ruth was asked to be sleeping at her step grandfather’s house because their new house was smaller and there was not much privacy for the parents. During her stay at the grandfather’s house Ruth was defiled every night by the grandfather. Despite reporting this to her mother no attempt was made to report, arrest the perpetrator or even provide Ruth with an alternative sleeping place. All her mother told her was that if they reported it would cause bad blood and this could result to them being chased away. Directly translated she told Ruth to “Help her keep peace in her new marital home”.
After a while new sleeping arrangements were made for Ruth. She was moved to be sleeping at her polygamous step uncle’s home. Her step uncle started defiling her as well and this time she conceived. When she told her Uncle about the pregnancy he beat her senseless and told her he did not want any association with the pregnancy. He then gave her one dollar and asked her to relocate to avoid conflict with his family since his two wives were threatening her as well.
She left and started wandering aimlessly not knowing where to go or what to do with herself in her situation. A pastor spotted her as she was begging for food at the Kenya Uganda boarder. He got curious and approached her. She narrated her ordeal to him. The pastor called Childline Kenya who in turn mobilized the rescue team consisting of Ruth’s former teacher, area chief and the sub county coordinator of Children Services.
Ruth is in a safe place currently and the perpetrators have been arrested. She is still receiving psycho social support including counseling and will resume school once she has delivered her baby. Childline conducts regular follow up to ensure the perpetrators do not walk Scott free so that justice is served for Ruth. This will also deter other members of the community from engaging in illicit relationships with underage girls.
Support to children like Ruth is made possible through our partners on the GlobalGiving platform and for that we are eternally grateful.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Pay Bill: 891300
Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.Start a Fundraiser