Who Cares?

In September one of our young female students was found by a taxi driver, wandering many kilometres away from her home. She had been abducted by a man who was known to her and who, it turns out, had been grooming her for some time. We immediately sent her to a local private hospital where an examination revealed no physical abuse had taken place, although details of previous encounters with the man who took her were revealed during counselling sessions.

We took the hospital report to the police station to report the incident and seek action against the person. We knew where he was staying. The first officer we spoke with basically fell asleep during the interview and later continued to ask questions about issues we had already covered. We asked to speak to someone else and found a sympathetic female officer who took our statement and issued a report number. However, they said we had to return with a witness who had previously “rescued” the child from an “encounter” with this man.

To cut a long story short, after a total of five visits to the police station, we were told today that they would not take action based on a report issued from a private hospital, we had to go to a government hospital and get another examination and another report. Apart from the distress this causes the child, why did it take five visits to the police station before we were alerted to this? Were they all asleep the whole time?

This statement from a 2010 United Nations report on violence against children in Kenya rings very true… “Most importantly, less than 10% of females and males who experienced sexual, physical or emotional violence as a child actually received some form of professional help.”

It is very hard to get anyone interested in a case such as this. The attitudes that prevail here, and the negligence of the services that exist to protect children and other victims of abuse, breed a culture of tolerance and indifference.

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