Concern as many child custody, upkeep cases abandoned

Landmark ruling on child upkeep ignores unpaid care
Photo credit: Photo I Pool

What you need to know:

  • Maua chief magistrate Tito Gesora says they are keen to expedite matters related to children, but some complainants abandon their court cases.
  • Speaking during an occasion to mark Children Justice Month, he said they had received 369 children custody and maintenance cases since 2017 and 250 had already been resolved.

A magistrate has decried incidents where some litigants fail to pursue their child and custody maintenance cases, only to accuse the courts of delay when the deal falls through.

Maua chief magistrate Tito Gesora said they were keen to expedite matters related to children to serve justice, but some complainants abandoned their court cases.

Speaking during an occasion to mark Children Justice Month, he said they had received 369 children custody and maintenance cases since 2017 and 250 had already been resolved.

“Sometimes litigants file cases here and then disappear. Maybe they reconcile and do not follow their cases until they disagree again, then come back seeking to continue with it. Sometimes they do not even remember their case numbers and start saying their files have been lost,” said Mr Gesora.

He said they were keen to ensure children in conflict with the law got pro bono legal services.

Calls for child counselling

Maua court users committee also proposed using guidance and counselling to discourage children against engaging in sex, instead of charging boys with defilement.

Mr Gesora said the committee was keen on resolving sexual offences involving minors of relatively the same age through diversion, instead of dragging them through the court process.

He observed that the court was receiving many such cases and there were calls to invite the children's parents and engage them in counselling or other mechanisms agreeable to them.

Ordinarily, prosecutors charge boys with defilement. “We will be looking for the facts. If the children had consent, we can take them to the probation or children’s officer so that they are counselled and they go on with their education,” explained Benson Muthomi, a state counsel.

The committee’s deliberation followed concerns about high number of defilement cases against teenage boys caught engaging in sex with girls their age or even older.

In a recent visit to Kangeta GK Prison, inmates and warders said the law appeared biased against boys are they were mainly the ones who were charged.

Legal gap

Prison deputy boss Patrick Njogu observed that though boys were charged with defilement, the law was silent on what action should be taken to the girl in the event both were underage.

“There are so many young boys who have been committed to prison or borstal institutions because of defilement. Many boys facing such cases are those in Form Four because many have attained 18 and have girlfriends in Form Three who are below 18. Since a minor cannot give consent, you will be told that you enticed her,” said Mr Njogu.  

He was commenting after Mr James Kirimi, an inmate, said many boys were falling victim to sexual offences. “Many young men are getting lost by following beautiful girls without thinking. You should engage speed governor and avoid falling to temptations. When you’re in school, focus on books,” appealed the inmate.

Mr Njogu explained that the Sexual Offences Act prescribed various jail terms for defilement, including life imprisonment.

Igembe Children’s officer John Mwangi said they had accelerated ways to minimise street children by reintegrating them with their families.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.