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‘Stop Violence’ campaign in Kenya leads to increased reporting of abuses

© UNICEF Kenya/2006/Bonn
Schoolchildren in Kenya’s Naivasha District rally behind ‘Stop Violence against Children’ campaign.

By Julie Mwabe

The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children is a landmark effort to provide a detailed global picture of the nature, extent and causes of such violence and act to prevent it. The final report was presented to the General Assembly on 11 October. Here is the latest in a series of related stories.

NAIROBI, Kenya, 16 October 2006 – Two months after the ‘Stop Violence against Children’ campaign launched in Kenya, there has been a sharp increase in the number of reported cases of violence.

“People, including children themselves, are now more open to speak about violence and also know where to go for help,” said Kiambu District Children’s Officer Anne Waichinga.

The Stop Violence bus, which kicked off the campaign, has travelled through Kenya’s Naivasha and Kiambu Districts, encouraging communities to take action and raising awareness of anti-violence initiatives already in place.

“Since the bus left Kiambu District,” added Ms. Waichinga, “the number of cases of child abuse I have to deal with in a day are overwhelming. I have moved from recording at least 7 cases a day to 30.”

© UNICEF Kenya/2006/Bonn
Kenyan schoolchildren recite a poem in front of the Stop Violence bus.

Breaking the silence

According to UNICEF Representative in Kenya Heimo Laakkonen, the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children revealed that family members or close family friends commit 89 per cent of sexual abuses against children.

“The good news, however, is that simple and affordable solutions are within reach,” he said. “We need safe schools and community policing to make our streets safe. We need access to justice, and responsive and respectful health services, so that survivors of rape get the help they need within the first 72 critical hours to protect them from HIV/AIDS.

“Most important, we need to get people to talk so as to break the silence around violence and ensure everyone knows where to get help.”

‘Tomorrow will be too late’

The anti-violence campaign has received support from the private sector, non-governmental organizations and religious groups in partnership with the Kenyan Government and UNICEF.

“The dangers posed to social stability by violence against children are so great that we must act today, because tomorrow will be too late,” said Commercial Director Simon Kibuchi of Tetra Pak, the food packaging and processing company, which has pledged $52,000 to the campaign.

Many Kenyan civil society organizations helping children affected by violence have to work without sufficient resources for the growing number of cases. The Stop Violence campaign aims to enhance existing services – including free legal aid to victims of violence, safe schools, health care, community policing and the establishment of community protection centres.

At the same time, mobilization efforts in more than 20 districts will inform and empower Kenyans to help stop violence against children.

“Incidents of violence against children in Kenya have become a daily occurrence,” said Vice President Moody Awori during the Stop Violence campaign launch in Nairobi. “We live in a society where a majority of children from diverse backgrounds have experienced violence at the hands of the persons who are supposed to be their protectors.”




13 October 2006:
UNICEF’s Arnold Temple reports on the Stop Violence against Children campaign in Kenya.
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