JSC urged to establish courts in sub-counties to curb violence against children


A procession to sensitize the public on the need to combat violence against children in Nanyuki Town, Laikipia County on November 30, 2022.

Photo credit: Mwangi Ndirangu I Nation Media Group

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has been urged to establish courts in every sub-county countrywide to hasten cases related to violence against children.

Child rights defenders, members of the criminal justice system and the directorate of children services who spoke in Nanyuki Town, Laikipia County on Wednesday noted that most of the cases delay in court for years owing to workload while the law states that it should not take more than six months.

Participants during the sensitization forum observed that owing to delays, most of the culprits are rarely convicted since minors cannot hold the evidence in their minds for long.

At times, the family of the affected child lose interest or are compromised by the suspect and fail to present the complainant during hearing days.

“Children, parents and other stakeholders have expressed concern over delays in conclusion of cases presented before a magistrate’s court. We are calling on the relevant government arms to hire more judicial officers and court prosecutors and deploy them to areas with high prevalence incidences of child rights abuses,” said Dr Helen Gathogo, a member of the Court Users Committee (CUC) at the Nanyuki Law Courts.

Dr Gathogo who is also the founder of One More Day for Children, a safe house for girls who are victims of harmful cultural practices said mobile courts were not effective in addressing the challenges of child right abuses in remote and inaccessible areas.

Children services

Laikipia County Coordinator of Children Services, Ezekiel Omwansa, told the forum that in 2021, his office handled 52 cases of defilement which were taken to court and only three have been concluded.

Violence against children manifests itself either sexually, physically or emotionally with previous surveys carried out indicating that the perpetrators are rarely strangers but people close to the victim, known or family members.

A 2019 from the Kenya National Bureau of Statists (KNBS) indicated that 14 percent of girls aged between 13 to 17 countrywide experienced a form of sexual violence while only two percent of boys were victims.

On the other hand, the report showed that 39 percent of boys in the same age bracket were physically assaulted compared to 37 percent of the girls.  
Cases of violence against children are either sexual, physical or emotional. 

On emotional violence, the percentage of boys and girls is almost at par, reflecting a percentage of 32 and 34 percent respectively, with the perpetrators being the peers.

Deputy Director at the Directorate of Children Services Mwambi Mong’are said the delays in concluding matters related to violation of children’s rights remain an obstacle in the roadmap to reducing violence against children to 40 percent by June 2024.

“As a department, we have been travelling around the counties to meet the community and hear their concerns in handling violence against children through a campaign dubbed Spot It!. Here in Laikioia County, we have cases of child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation and drug and substance abuse and I urge parents and the society in general to be on the lookout during this long Christmas holiday,” said Mr Mong’are.

Participants at the forum who included children, parents, government officials, civil society organisations held a procession in Nanyuki Town as part of a campaign to reduce incidents of violence against children.