Homa Bay parents enrol girls on karate for self-defence

Homa Bay parents enrol children on martial arts

What you need to know:

  • Homa Bay Taekwondo Association chairman Japheth Ngolo, who trains the children, said most of them, especially girls, acquire skills to defend themselves.
  • Gender experts attribute some of the sexual violence cases in the county to poverty.

An increase in defilement cases in Homa Bay is pushing parents to pull out all the stops to protect their children from harm. 

Some have enrolled their children, especially girls, on martial arts like karate and taekwondo as a way of enabling them to fight off sex offenders.

At La Salle School in Homa Bay town, 40 children, aged between four and 10, are taking taekwondo classes. School director Antony Oloo said the sport was introduced last year and is becoming popular with residents.

Their initial intention was to enable learners to compete in championships. But within weeks, more parents asked their children to join, not for sports but for self-defence.

“We realised that taekwondo is a base for other games, including football, as it instils discipline.”

Homa Bay Taekwondo Association chairman Japheth Ngolo, who trains the children, said most of them, especially girls, acquire skills to defend themselves.

Training sessions take place between 2pm and 3pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. On Saturdays, Mr Ngolo hosts up to 100 children interested in martial arts for trials between 2pm and 4:30pm.

Ms Judy Majiwa says her daughter will acquire skills to enable her to fight off sexual offenders in the event of an attack. She expressed worries about rising cases of human rights violations in the county. "I encourage other parents to let their children participate in the game. It will help them in case the children are kidnapped."

In Mbita’s Victoria School, another 40 children have enrolled for karate.

The move comes in the wake of accusations that some of those entrusted with protecting the children are the ones abusing them. The latest case is of a priest accused of defiling a 13-year-old girl during a prayer session at his home on Sunday. He’s in police custody.

Another case was of a teacher accused of defiling six students and making one of them pregnant.

According to the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey report, the county is ranked second in cases of physical violence at 54 per cent. It is ranked third nationally in sexual violence at 24 per cent.

Gender experts say some of the cases are attributed to poverty. Sadly, most cases do not make it to the courts. Perpetrators and victims, as well as their families, negotiate settlements. This leaves most children vulnerable, with no one to defend them.

Healthy and safe

Mr Hesbon Ouma, who is in charge of the Homa Bay Karate Association, said martial arts, besides keeping children healthy, enable them to fight off criminals.

"Food that we eat today has a lot of chemicals that need to be controlled in the body. The only way to stay healthy is to engage in a sporting activity that makes them fit."

The two sporting events have, however, not been given attention by the county sports department.

Mr Ngolo and Mr Ouma called on the county government to support their sporting activity.

Mr Ngolo has represented Homa Bay in different competitions and won medals. "We have an upcoming competition in Rwanda and hope the county government will help us take care of the expenses," he said.

Mr Ouma asked for training kits. 

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