Friday, December 02, 2005

Abuse in Kenya

I know this is a provocative topic but we need a little controversy once in a while. When we are abroad, we hear it all the time, sexual abuse on minors, boys and girls equally. In Kenya it happens but no one talks about it, even in the families that it happens, it is a hush, hush thing but wait a minute, no, rarely do the victims report it.

Sexual abuse on a minor is usually by an uncle, a houseboy, a cousin or even a brother and I would not exclude the fathers, yes this is provocative I know and no I do not watch too much T.V or talk shows. I have heard horror stories of such in our country but in our Kenyan society that is a taboo and should not be brought to light or talked about. I understand this has to do with tribal customs but on this day and age, I think some things need to be talked about.

Some of the girls end up being impregnated by the tender age of 13.This is when the villagers get shocked, for not only do these innocent girls have no boyfriends, there are always at home and yet everyone is buffled as to “how did that happen?”.

I know this girl who was the quietest girl in a certain place, always withdrawn and of course the other kids had a field day with her .When I went to visit that place, she was never even allowed to play with me because the father was very strict. It was while visiting one day that in the middle of the night, the father came asking for a ride to the hospital because the daughter was very sick. Few hours later, she had a baby, she did a very good job of hiding the pregnancy for nine months and as usual everyone was shocked and wait, three years later, the story came out, she had been abused repeatedly and yes by a relative, oh yes, and the minute she would mention to her mother and father about this, they always told her she was trouble maker and crazy hence her withdrawn personality. Well this past year, the girl committed suicide.

Trust me, this is no fiction and it is because of this that I write because I feel bad that no one listened to her and it haunted her for all these years because no one would believe or listen to her. She left a note and named her relative abuser, the father of her child, her uncle, her father’s brother who lived in the same compound. Well the family of course denied the accusations but word is the child looks exactly like the girl’s uncle. Coincidence or strong genes from her father or the uncle ?

When you think about it, numerous girls or even boys goes through this while growing up but since this is not something that is openly discussed in families let alone in the larger community, then the kids move on with life. But, is life really the same for an abused child, do they perform and excel in school like the other kids or are they the students that has to be pushed through school and in case of Kenyan education they have to repeat a grade over and over. Maybe, just maybe, these are kids we made fun of in school, these are kids we called daft and shoved around. This is the girl who would wet her panties and we would make fun of all year around .Sometimes, the teachers for lack of knowing any better would join in, even punish this kid to the joy and mockery of other kids, kinda like when Jesus was being mocked by the Roman soldiers. Did anyone ever wonder why there were such kids in school who behaved this way? Was it because they were slow or something happened at home and with no one to tell developed a “weird” personality.


I can hear it, the lament of the parents that they have done everything to push this child to excel, the blame has flown from the teacher to teacher, school to school, and yet, no one understand why the child is either withdrawn, hostile,have a don’t care attitude or the bully in school. I’m no psychologist but I know and acknowledge that sexual abuse is rampant in Kenya and especially in rural areas because the environment is more conducive and the “children are to be seen not heard” attitude is still very much embraced .

Maybe there are others who are abused and come accustomed to it and became part of life but many years later, the effect of abuse has slowly manifested itself their married life, the way they treat their children, their outlook of life etc?

A girl or a boy child who is abused and keeps mum psychological adjust from the trauma adopting a certain behavior to cope. I do not know about now and I’m not in Kenya to judge the situation and I cannot tell whether this stuff is talked about but in 70s ,80s,the 90s parents rarely talked about such issues and talking of which, Moi even banned usiniharakishe because it was too lacey for T.V back way in the 80s:-) (Down memory lane).

My thinking is, we all talk about developing Kenya but for us to develop we have to develop socially, we have to open up and talk about such provocative issues, we have to stop hiding and talk behind the curtains. They say a mind is a terrible thing to waste, true, education come in all dimensions and to me, a beautiful mind is a healthy mind.

If we expect the future generation to carry our country to even greater heights ,then lets stop, lets talk about it all, Aids, Rape , Abuse and challenge ourselves to be better a country, a country that develops in all directions. I know this is a challenge because as I write this, there many, many families whose heads are just floating above the water, who are lucky if they can have a meal a day and with all those frustration of life, the last thing they want to hear is an accusation of sex abuse let alone talk about it and also the shame that is involved in such a dialogue.

Anyway, it is happening and it has happened to many young kids and hopefully one day these little voices will be listened to andso that they can and develop to be the shining stars of their villages, towns and the country. Again, a beautiful mind is a Healthy mind!

2 comments:

Acolyte said...

This is a very deep post and yes I do agree with you that keeping quiet will not make the problem go away.I do hope Kenya becomes like countries in the west that are making sex offenders register so that they can keep an eye on them.It may be hard to prevent but we can punish the offenders to the full letter of the law!ps:msanii,nick kula hiyo!

Irena said...

Aco: Yes this is hot! topic and not many people especially in our society would openly talk about it. I do not know about the level of application for such offence when it comes to our Kenyan law enforcement but may be by bringing this to light more often might deter the offenders.