The past few years have seen an increase in cases of sexual harassment of children worldwide. This has turned the sexual health of children a major concern.
The WHO defines sexual abuse as involvement of a child in sexual activities that they do not fully comprehend. Rape and incest are the best-known forms of sexual abuse.
The prevalence of child sexual abuse is estimated at 15-20 per cent for girls and eight per cent for boys. It is time we treated cases of child sexual abuse with the seriousness they deserve.
Surveys on violence and sexual abuse against children have returned saddening results.
It is believed that, sexual abuse is influenced by issues such as economic, social and gender inequalities, which include death of a parent(s), poverty, peer influence, drug and substance abuse and media influence.
This has led to increased cases of HIV/Aids among children, who also contract other sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea,syphilis and chancroid.
Despite the laws on sexual abuse among children, a huge gap still exists, in that there are those who are defiant. The hindrance of adhering to the laws include defiance, illiteracy, education and poor monitoring.
Many cases of child sexual abuse—especially against children living in remote areas, who are mostly affected—are not reported.
The government needs to invest in and focus more on healthcare services and train more health workers, including community health workers, to sensitise residents of villages and informal urban settlements to eradicate the vice.
Parents and guardians should also monitor their children and educate them about avoiding sexual abuse and related issues such as reproductive health.
The children should be educated about the importance of being open enough to share their ideas and issues affecting them. Encourage them to report any case of sexual abuse against them to the authorities or share them to those who can offer help.
The National Council for Children’s Service (NCCS) should boost its relationship with the communities to ensure quick response to child abuse cases.
Sarah Wafula, Migori