Defilement and pregnancy cases among school going children now on the rise in Northeastern is worrying, a non-governmental organisation has said.
Speaking during the Day of African Child celebrations at Garissa Rescue Centre on Friday, Womankind Kenya’s child officer Hassan Ismail said many of these cases are not reported to authorities.
He said a few cases that are reported, the government does not take quick action that would be in the interest of a child adding that the culprits are always let off the hook under mysterious circumstances.
“It’s unfortunate that defilement and pregnancy amongst children are on the rise and most of the times, they are not reported and when it is reported police are always reluctant to pursue these cases,” he said.
“I challenge the government and security agencies to do more in protecting children rights; they are most vulnerable,” he added.
Mr Ismail said girls in Primary schools are being married off under the watchful eyes of local administrators in the villages. He argued that chiefs should be in forefront in fighting this vice but they have looked the other side.
The event brought together Government officials, various Non-governmental organisations including UNICEF, Silver Lining Kenya and Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) among others.
Garissa County Children’s Coordinator Mohamed Abdi Hussein said many children in the county are exposed to hardships while others are engaged in labour which he said was against the law.
He said the rate at which parents in the county are neglecting their children was alarming while warning that abandoning parenthood is an offence punishable by law.
“These days, there are many cases of parents failing to take responsibility of their children, they should know that this is a criminal offence,” he said.
Mr Hussein said many underage girls were in danger of harmful cultural practices including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) that he said are conducted silently away from government officials.
He said low enrolment in schools was another challenge as most of the children are out school and are engaging in child labour such as hawking, looking after livestock among other activities.