Action for Children in Conflict - AfCiC

Category : AfCiC Blog

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR STREET CHILDREN AND WHAT IT REALLY MEANS

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, shoes and outdoorAre you aware that there is an International Day for street children? And that it is takes place on 12th April? The First International Day for street children was launched on 14th April, 2011 with an aim of providing a platform on which Street Children around the world can voice their rights.

 

But what does this day really mean for Kamau*, aged ten (10) years, living on the streets of Thika, having been born on the streets and left to fend for himself at a tender age? Who at just six (6) years old was forced into substance abuse?

 

Or for the other children just like Kamau with no homes, no roofs over their heads and are forced to sleep on the streets? Children with no food and are left with no choice but to live on leftovers collected from garbage bins? Who have no access to medical care or who are constantly exposed to sexual exploitation and abuse, substance abuse and deprivation? Does this day come with an array of hope that the street children’s troubles are approaching resolution?

 

The preamble of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) recognizes that there are children who live in exceptional conditions and as such should be accorded special consideration. Street children are children too who deserve to have their rights, as children and as vulnerable children recognized and protected. Although Street children cannot be viewed in isolation to other children; it is important to note that in some ways, they are disadvantaged to their peers. Their emotional and physical growth is hampered by an unbalanced, traumatic emotional and unfriendly environment

 

The CRC provides various protections for the child which includes; protection of the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation as well as sexual abuse. The Convention further states that all parties to it shall ensure that they take appropriate measures to promote the physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

 

This day is therefore an opportunity to send a message and remind the society, civil society organizations and the government of the multiple deprivations and violations of the street children’s rights and the need to stop and protect them. That we need a number of protection systems put in place. A day to remind these institutions and ourselves of the need to go back to the basics, understand and find the underlying cause as to why there are street children and why their number keeps on increasing.

 

As we celebrate the International Day of Street Children, let us all listen and act to the plights of the street child for change and a better tomorrow for Kamau, Otieno, Kambua and all other Street children all over the world.

 

IS IT PLAUSIBLE TO ADVOCATE FOR THE CREATION OF MOBILE CHILDREN COURTS TO ADRESS THE INCESSANT ABUSE OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD?

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Upon a cursory look of the current operations of the children’s courts throughout the country, it is succinctly clear that there has been some remarkable progress pertaining to the way the children cases are addressed. There has been a realization that the rights of the child are primary and that the courts ought to prioritize them hence the administration of justice in relation to children cases has been swifter.
However, during a visit to conduct a workshop at Kamwangi in Gatundu Constituency, I realized that the idea of an improved judiciary or basic court process in relation to children cases is very farcical and contradictory. This is because there were numerous complaints of the lack of a remedy to the numerous child rights violations that constantly recur in such areas. The people and the society in general were oblivious of the court process hence most of the child rights abuses in the area often left unaddressed.
The other major issue was that, even though a few people knew about the court process, they perceived it as very expensive thus a remedy that is not available to all due to the financial constraints. This situation was therefore disheartening as the children are left with severe psychological scars whereas the perpetrators of such child rights violations are able to scamper for safety devoid of any prosecutions.This is primarily due to the general lack of awareness about the availability of a remedy in court ,whereas at times it is predicated on the lack of ample resources to initiate cases in courts or the misconception that the filing of cases in court is always a very expensive process and a preserve of the wealthy and not those with fickle fortunes.
I was therefore very pensive for a while trying to conceive an idea that would adequately bring such instances to a better resolve. The two key areas that ought to be addressed include the civic education vital to ensure that the people are aware about the existence of the legal remedies available in a court of law. The civic education will also try to clear the myth that the pursuance of justice is only a preserve of the elite. The government therefore ought to collaborate and work together with non-governmental organizations and other key and interested stakeholders to conduct the civic education and ensure that no children rights violations shall be left unaddressed due to the solitary reason of the general lack of awareness of the available remedies.
The other solution would be that of the creation of mobile children courts. It might appear impractical but it would ensure that the courts are now close and proximate to the people in the marginalized areas. This would also heighten the level of consciousness with regard to the children cases and the relevance of the courts simultaneously ensuring that the costs incurred to pursue remedies for the aggrieved children are largely subsidized.
The mobile courts should be able to visit various areas throughout the country at specified times for the filing of the cases. The government should therefore work in tandem with other non-governmental organizations to ensure that most of the people who cannot afford the exorbitant legal fees are afforded legal representation for free or at low costs
The mobile courts also ensure that the cost involved pertaining to transport is eliminated. It would be a great initiative spawning from the collective efforts of the government and other stakeholders to ensure that the child rights violations are curtailed and that legal redress is easily available.
I therefore surmise that it might be perceived as utopian at the first instance but if it is undertaken strategically, the results would be tremendous and it is a project that would resonate with most of the countries all over the world which encounter similar hindrances.

 

CULTURES AND OUR ANCIENT TRADITIONAL VALUES ARE STILL RENDERING THE UPHOLDING OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD MORE DIFFICULT.

Friday, February 27th, 2015

The core values that we hold as human beings are often rarely discarded. This entails values which were inculcated into us at a tender age and which more often than not have formed and played an instrumental role in guiding the way we rationalize things and our general cognitive thinking about the occurrences of our day to day lives.
Morality entails the determination of what is right or wrong. What is right or wrong varies from one individual to another hence there exists certain universal standards which are codified into laws and statutes and which cannot be derogated from. This curtails state of nature where there is lawlessness as what is right or wrong could alternatively trickle down to one’s personal preference and ideas and perceptions inherent in him if we existed in a society devoid of any laws thus unfettered by any restraints.
Kenya is a very diverse country with varying and distinct tribes. The debate pertaining to the balance between the various tribes has become finely ingrained in recent years. All the tribes possess their own cultures which are very close and proximate to them. The balance between upholding the rights of the rights of the child as provided for under the constitution, other complementary statutes and the cultural beliefs, ethos and values spawning from the various tribes is very delicate.
Often, the adherence to the law could be premised on several factors. Some communities are not only oblivious of the law, but they also do not know or have ample information pertaining to the enacted laws in the country. This could stem from where the communities are situate or from ignorance and the absolute disregard of the law. Another factor could be the firm belief that the cultural beliefs inherent in a certain community cannot be ousted by any other law.
Our constitution, 2010 recognizes the values and the cultures emanating from the various tribes or communities in Kenya. However, there are checks and balances and such cultural laws ought not to be arbitrary and repugnant to the sense of morality and justice. Article 2 (4) of the Constitution stipulates that any law, including customary law, that is inconsistent with this Constitution is void to the extent of the inconsistency, and any actor omission in contravention of this Constitution is invalid.
I am a firm proponent of inclusivity but most people who are often misled tend to act in absolute disregard of the law. In the Daily Nation newspaper, dated the 19th of February 2015, an article was published highlighting that a mother was massively distressed in Mombasa due to the fact that the security of her child was in jeopardy. This was predicated on the fact that the child was born with various deformities which based on the tribe in question implied that the child was an outcast and thus a curse and a sign of bad omen.
It was therefore very disconcerting to realize that even with the advent of the new Constitution, such old tendencies still recur as people still find it plausible to act unencumbered by the law hence following their often misguided cultural beliefs.
It would be my hope that some of this instances are transient but unfortunately, there are many cases which are have a striking semblance to the Mombasa case but they are barely documented or published hence alien to the general public.
There can only be change if there is heightened civic education and if the holders of such perceptions can be enlightened further. There is no any curse placed on a disabled child or a child with any manifest deformities. The children with such deformities are actually very gifted depicting various precocious tendencies from a very young age. Their proclivities which hail from their gifts are therefore never shared with the world when there is discrimination based on the cultural beliefs which are whimsical. The children cannot therefore live and lead a normal life as expected hence they rarely perform their full repertoire as expected.
It is therefore imperative that there be changes. This should ensure that there is a fine balance between what is wrong or right in the society and that people comprehensively understand that the law will always override any other cultural beliefs if they are proven to be capricious. The substantive law exists hence the changes vital are procedural. These will entail various stakeholders ranging from the governmental to civil societies and any other private stakeholders. There should be more education so that the cultural idiosyncrasies are completely dispensed with. The police should also be more vigilant and there should also be more executive curbs to ensure that people who want to facilitate such acts and baseless discrimination are effectively deterred from doing so.

 

CUSTODY OF MINORS IN KENYA

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Section 81 (1) of the Children Act define custody with respect to a child to mean so much of the parental rights and duties as relate to the possession of the child. The custody order is often given by a court where the couple fails to agree on custody. Custody can be given to a parent of the child(ren), a guardian or any other person who applies for custody of the child but has actual custody for three months before making the application and has the permission of the parent or the guardian and any other person who can show a reasonable cause why custody should be bestowed upon him/her.
Matters of child(ren) custody can be complicated and when dealing with such cases, courts do focus on the best interest of the child. Parent may agree on custody of the children at the time of separation. If this is the case, it is important for the couple to ensure that their agreement is properly documented in a legally binding separation agreement. Parent can agree on joint custody, but there are times where parent may want sole custody of children, for example, where a parent has never been involved in a child’s life, is unable to parent, or has moved out of the country. If they fail to reach to an amicable solution, court will determine the suitable parent to give the custody.
In doing this, court has to interrogate the circumstances around the case so as to establish whether the child has suffered any harm or is likely to suffer any harm if the custody order is not made. Both parents have equal rights to apply to the court for a custody of their child(ren) but the court is guided by the following principles set under S. 83(1) of the Children Act (2006) among others which include; wishes of the child, wishes of the parents, guardians, foster parents or any other person who have custody of the child; cultural and religious background of the child, best interest of the child, parent-child relationship bond, parenting abilities of each individual, each parent mental, physical and emotional health, available support systems of each parent, etc.
Custody of Minors: children of tender years are kept under custody of their mothers unless there is a sufficient evidence to discredit the mother. The Subordinate Courts (Separation and Maintenance) Act Cap 153, enables a woman to seek custody for a child below 16 years. Article 53 (2) of the Constitution states that the welfare of the child is of paramount consideration in every matter and thus, court should consider which parent will be able to provide the best shelter, health, education and upbringing. In Karanu vs Karanu (1975) E.A 18, it was held that the first guiding principle provides that whenever the state, a court, a local authority or any person determines any question with respect to upbringing of the child, the child’s welfare shall be the paramount consideration and that is the position of the law.
In most cases court normally awards custody to the mother for she is considered best able to take care of very young children for they know their interests and needs. Where custody is bestowed on the mother, she is entitled to maintenance from the father until the child attains the age of majority.
REFERENCES
Children Act Cap 141 of 20091
The Constitution of Kenya 2010
Karanu vs. Karanu (1975) E.A 18
Subordinate Courts (Separation and Maintenance) Act Cap 153

 

SUPPORT AND MAINTENANCE OF A CHILD BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK AND THE LEGAL POSITION IN KENYA

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

INTRODUCTION
Earlier on before the promulgation of the Kenyan Constitution 2010, no right on support and maintenance of a child born out of wedlock accrued on the father where there was no legal relationship between the mother and the father. The only remedy that the mother had was in the customary law which provides for pregnancy compensation but the compensation is usually paid directly to the mother parents and does not necessarily benefits the child. The compensation is also determined by the elders who are gender biased and tend to favour the father of the child.
LEGAL POSTION BEFORE THE CONSTITUTION OF KENYA 2010
Previously in our laws, the mother was deemed to have parental responsibility over the child at first instance. Particularly section 24 (3) of the Children Act, 2001 provides that where the child’s father and mother were not married to each other at the time of the child’s birth and have not subsequently married each other, the mother shall have parental responsibility at the first instance. Under Section 25, the father only acquires parental responsibility for the child if he applies to the court for it, acquire it through an agreement with the mother, has accepted paternity or has maintained the child or lived with the child for 12 months. This shows that the father does not automatically acquire the responsibility towards the child. In many cases, such children are not maintained by their fathers because they fail to acknowledge them and in rare cases, fathers do sign the parental responsibility agreement.
This is so discriminative as compared to children who their parents are married and is contrary to the best interest principle towards any child. Under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, a child’s mother cannot enter the name of the father of the child in the birth certificate without the father’s consent. This has been the inequality for the children born out of wedlock.
LEGAL POSITION AFTER THE PROMULGATION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF KENYA 2010
The position of joint responsibility of both parents whether married to each other or not, is guided by Article 53 (e) of the Constitution which provide that every child has a right to parental care and protection which includes equal responsibility of the mother and father to provide for the child, whether married to each other or not.
This provision was upheld in a landmark case of Zak & Another vs. The Attorney General & Another (2013) KLR. In this case, the petitioner challenged the Constitutionalism of Section 24(3) of the Children Act and Section 25. She argued that these sections infringed Article 27(1) of the Constitution which states that every person is equal before the law and has a right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law. In line with that argument, Justice Mumbi Ngugi stated that it was unconstitutional for the Children Act placing the responsibility of the children born outside marriage only on the mother. In this regard, the provisions of section 90(a) and (e) of the Children Act were unconstitutional considered alongside the provisions of Section 24(3) which places the responsibility of the child on the mother at the first instance where the mother and the father are not married.
The judge then proceeded to find that in line with the provisions of Section 7 of Schedule 6 of the Constitution, the Children Act must be read as imposing parental responsibility on both of their biological parents, whereby they were married to each other or not at the time of the child’s birth. The court further found that the above mentioned provisions of the Children’s Act to be unconstitutional hence null and void.
This has been the best decision made in light to the children born out of wedlock. Article 2(4) of the Constitution states that; any law including customary law that is inconsistent with the Constitution is void to the extent of inconsistency and thus, such provisions hindering the best interest principle on any child to be achieved should be struck out.

 

2015 FORM ONE SELECTION

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

With the introduction of free primary education in 2003, gross enrollment of children in schools rose to 103%. This was also seen in free secondary education program. This was so commendable as it complied with the principles of basic education as set in international instruments that Kenya is signatory to. This meant that all children could access basic education as of right.
Despite this, many Kenyans has opted to continue bearing the burden of paying school fees for their children by enrolling them in private schools which are on rise in Kenya at all levels. The reasons why many parent, if asked enroll their children in private schools has been that the quality of education is higher as compared to public schools and that teachers in private schools do pay much attention to their students as compared to students in public schools. This is evidenced by the percentage of children who leads in the national examination as students from private schools always carry the flag every year as compared to those in public schools.
However, despite their determination, the challenge has been the smooth transition of private school students from one level to a higher level. This is evidenced by recent complaints by parents pertaining to their children being that they scored high marks but they were enrolled in school with lower standard contrary to their children’s choice. Parents have termed this as discrimination against private schools in Kenya.
According to the Children Act (2001), the child interest is paramount and child needs and views should be considered. Children at private and public school are given the right of choice to choose the schools. This is commendable but during enrollment you will find that children from public schools are given first priority as compared to those in private schools. This is total discrimination and is contrary to Article 53 of the constitution conferring the right of education to every child. Article 27 condemns discrimination at all levels and calls for equality among all children despite their social status.
The Children Act Article 7(1) call upon the government and the parent to be responsible in ensuring that every child is entitled to education. Furthermore, Article 11(3) and (d) of African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child call upon the State Parties to take all appropriate measures with a view of achieving the full realization of the right to education and to make the higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity and ability by every appropriate means.
Furthermore, the Basic Education Act (2013) sets out the principles on provision of basic education. Article 4(b &e) advocate for equitable access to basic education and equal access to education or institutions and protection of every child against discrimination within or by an education department or education institution on any ground whatsoever. Article 39(b) gives the government the mandate to ensure compulsory admission and attendance of children at school or an institution giving basic education.
As Article 27(6) of the Constitution gives the government the mandate to take measures including affirmative action and policies to redress any disadvantage suffered by groups or individuals, I will then call upon the government to come up with policies to redress this and ensure that children in private school are treated in the same level as children in public school inform one selection.

 

WOMEN LAND RIGHTS IN RELATION TO CHILDREN’S WELFARE

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

INTRODUCTION
Land is the most important asset for people in Kenya because majority of people depend in agriculture for their livelihood. Land has been the source of identity, cultural heritage and an important source of security against poverty in Kenya. However, land ownership in Kenya is patriarchal, in that men who are considered as the head of the family have absolute ownership and control over the land while women have limited rights to ownership. Women have only access right but lack ownership rights. Ownership of land, housing and other property provides direct and indirect benefits including a secure place to live, the means to the livelihood and a measure of wealth. Land has been recognized as the primary source of wealth, social status, and power providing the basis for shelter, food and economic activities.

OWNERSHIP OF LAND BY WOMEN IN KENYA
Many women in Kenya’s farming communities are denied their rights to land ownership. Daughters may not inherit an equal share of their father’s estate or nothing at all. On the other hand, women risks been chased away of their late husband’s land and if they refuse, they risk physical violence and being chased off the land. In most Kenyan customary law, the right of a woman to own property is curtailed. As a practice, the head of the family has been the man who holds land and other property on behalf of the family members. Upon divorce or separation, it has been the wife who leaves the matrimonial home leaving only with her self-acquired property including the children and landed property remains with the husband. The children risk lack of support and maintenance from their father and many end up dropping out of school. For both widows and daughters, this means they lose their livelihood and are denied their rights and outcomes of this perpetuate further hardships to women especially those in rural areas and their children.
Research has shown that Kenyan women account for majority of agricultural labour (70%) but they hold only 1% of registered land titles. This situation is attributed to conduct of land titling programs and attitude held by customary laws. The previous land tenure practices were been consciously extended, integrated and modified by men to the detriment of women. Women dominate rural areas because they are often left behind while their husbands move to the urban centers in search of better paying job. This shows that the transformation of the economy depends very much on the quality of women’s contribution. Similarly, the quality of the entire labour force is also completely dependent on women performance as mothers, the custodians of family health and welfare especially those of children. Since land is the source of livelihood to many Kenyans, this means that unequal rights to land put women at a disadvantaged, perpetuate poverty and entrench gender inequality. Women property rights are critical for achieving poverty reduction and gender equality, yet efforts to secure them are often compromised by many challenges. Women rights to own, inherit, and control property on equal basis with men has been violated since the time memorial. This contributes to poverty, homelessness, dispossession, diseases including HIV/AIDS, and violence.
While Kenyan women face numerous obstacles during marriage, the burden becomes insurmountable if they divorce or separate. Many divorced widowed women have found themselves stripped off all property at the termination of the marriage simply because it is assumed that the man has unquestionable prerogative to ownership. Under the law, when a man dies, the wife should inherit his property as his next of kin and hold such property in trust of the children. This has not been the practice since the male in-laws usually appropriate all tangible property leaving the woman helpless.
However, The National Land Policy (2009) has acknowledged the injustices that women has suffered and that is why there was a repeal of previous laws that governed land rights in Kenya since independence. The National Land Policy requires that the government should repeal all laws that discriminate on women including customary laws. There is also need to make provisions for joint spousal registration and documentation of land rights. The policy recommends that there should be consent of spouses in disposing family land. It also recommends that inheritance rights of unmarried daughters should be secured through legislation. It further obligates the government to come up with laws that will recognize indirect contribution to the acquisition of the matrimonial property by women. There is also need to review Law of Succession Act with specific objectives of coming up with laws that will govern disposal of matrimonial property. It goes ahead to recommend that the government should come up with the laws that will curb selling and mortgaging of family land without the involvement of spouses.
The policy can be said to have attained its mandate because through it, the previous laws which were discriminatory against women were repealed and the new laws that came into force since 2011 included all the recommendations that were laid down by the policy. These laws are:
• Land Act 2012
• Land Registration Act, 2012
• Matrimonial Property Act, 2014
These laws have created statutory rights to land for spouses. These rights include:
Spouse deemed ownership though not on title- where land is held in the name of one spouse, but the other spouse has contributed to the productivity, upkeep or improvement of the land, the contributing spouse shall be deemed to have acquired an ownership interest in the land. This ownership shall be recognized as if they were registered.
Sale or charge void, if spousal consent not obtained- disposition including sale, transfer, lease and charges of any land or a dwelling house held in the name of one spouse shall require the consent of the other spouse. A lender or purchaser is now under a duty to inquire whether the consent of the other spouse has been obtained. If the spouse undertaking disposition misleads the lender or the purchaser, the sale, transfer or charge shall be void, at the option of the spouse who did not consent to the transaction.
Previously, the status of marital property was covered by Married Women’s Property Act (1882) in absence of a specific Kenyan statute. The Act was extended to parties married under customary law. The Act followed the common law doctrine of separate property-each spouse retains as personal property whatever he or she owned before the marriage as well as what he or she acquired during the marriage.
The Married Women property Act has been repealed most recently by the Matrimonial Property Act (2014) meaning that the 1882 Act is no longer applicable to matrimonial causes in Kenya. The new Act has embraced direct and indirect contribution to the acquisition of the matrimonial property which was not clearly highlighted in the 1882 Act. However, a party who is claiming entitlement to a share in the matrimonial property has to prove that they put in some form of direct, indirect, material or emotional contribution.

IMPACT ON WOMEN DENIAL TO LAND RIGHTS AND IMPACT ON THEIR CHILDREN
Lack of land rights by women indicates that they are victims of discrimination since land is considered the most fundamental resource to women’s living conditions, economic empowerment and to some extent, their struggle of equity and equality within a patriarchal society. Lack of property rights upon divorce or separation and the fact that women become the sole caretakers of their children often derives them into poverty. As a result, together with their children face serious physical and psychological health harms including increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.
Land title deeds remain the major form of collateral security required when requesting for credit this has negative impact on women socio-economic status. Denial of women to own land is denial of their economic strength and this inhibits principles that pertain to a child as provided by law since women are the sole custodians of their children. There is also a strong association between poverty and child maltreatment. Rates of child abandonment are higher in communities with high levels of unemployment and concentrated poverty. The impact of child maltreatment is a profound and enormous and a single incident affects the victim not only today, but quiet often tomorrow and beyond as well.
It has become clear that the improvements in household welfare are typically more pronounced when women hold the rights. However, women are constrained in their ability to own, control and access land as compared to men. This gender disparity leaves women and the households they manage economically and socially vulnerable. It not only undermines women’s ability to address their and their children’s food, health and educational needs, it also undermines agricultural productivity.
IMPACT OF SECURE RIGHTS TO LAND BY WOMEN
Secure rights to land can confer economic benefits because land serves as a source of income through agricultural production and sale, and can serve as collateral for credit. Ownership of land largely defines access to opportunity, housing and food and nutrition security, as well as the ability to realize empowerment, social status within the community and political power.
Who benefits depends on who within the household holds those rights. When men alone enjoy those rights, women and their children may not be able to reap the benefits fully. Women tend to spend the income they control on household needs, whereas men spend on personal goods.
Women ownership to land enhances intra-household bargaining and decision making power and this allow them to influence household income and expenditures in a manner that reduces household poverty and benefits their children. And when women have land rights, children have higher levels of educational attainment. Improved status of women also renders them less vulnerable to domestic violence.
Women’s increased economic empowerment through secure land rights can lead to increased household food production and food security and women will be less vulnerable to engaging in transactional sex as a mean of survival. This can also serve as an income source to cover costs associated with the HIV/AIDS, improving women’s ability to cope with the economic and social impact of the disease.
CONCLUSION
Failure to enforce ownership of land to women in agricultural communities, where farming is the main source of income denies women economic opportunities and are pushed to extreme poverty since farming is the traditional and predominant source of income for many women. This affects the children because in most community, it is the woman who bears the burden of raising the children. This subject the said children to extreme poverty and some risk running away from their homes in search of peace, satisfaction, food and other basic needs and this leads them to the street. Thus, with secure rights to land, women and girls can improve food security, education, health and economic development for themselves and their families.

 

STRIPPING OF WOMEN IN KENYA

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Recently, there have been several cases on unjustified stripping of women or attempted stripping in Kenya. Men are the custodians of these barbaric acts in the name of morality and upholding Kenyan cultures while ruling out ‘westernization’. What men are not aware of is that they are addressing morality in a criminal way which can be prosecuted.
Stripping of women is an abuse to dignity for women in Kenya and stripping can’t be an answer when a woman wears short or tight clothes. There is no justification for stripping on moral basis because men wear tight jeans, sagging jeans and even shirts with cleavage and no one has ever complained of this. Another thing is that you will not miss men who will make inappropriate remarks when a woman is wearing baggy jeans or long skirts. So when we talk about conservative moralism, it is men who need to change because there are the one who are raping women and defiling young girls. Is this moral and stripping of women is it moral too? This shows that men remain as beasts in age of justice and equality and that there are not ready to appreciate freedom of expression and choice and elimination of all forms of discrimination.
Kenya is a democratic nation with laws governing our country and this means that people has a right of choice and freedom of expression. Thus, everyone must respect and accept other’s people choice because choices lie with that person.
Stripping is an act of aggression and humiliation against women. It is a sexual assault and we have laws that condemn such acts. Our Constitution for example upheld the right of inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected (art 28). It also rules against subjection to any form of violence from either public or private sources (art 29). This means that we are all protected from degrading acts and women are protected from public stripping. But continuance of stripping shows that Kenyan men are not ready to adhere to the provisions of our supreme law which should be governing us. There is also the Sexual Offences Act of 2006 which condemn sexual assault but it is vague when it comes to stripping and this should be amended to include stripping as an offence.
On the other hand, Article 27(5) of the Constitution stipulates that a person shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against another person on any ground including race, sex, culture, dress, etc. this means that the act of stripping women is an act of discrimination as men wears the way they want but when it comes to women, there are denied this freedom. Discrimination against women is condemned in our Constitution and other Kenyan laws but discrimination continues to exist in Kenya and such discrimination violates the principle of equality of rights and respect of human dignity.
Kenya is a patriarchal society and men still thinks that they have control over women especially on their sexuality. Traditional and religious attitudes perpetuate this because women are regarded as subordinate to men as having stereotyped roles and this perpetuate widespread violence against women. Effect of such violence on the physical and mental integrity of women is to deprive them the equal enjoyment, exercise and knowledge of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In conclusion, I will quote Art 5(a) of Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which stipulates that ‘State parties should take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view of achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on the stereotyped roles of men and women.’ Thus men should not feel being superior to women and should not be the judge on what women should wear or not wear because this will be discriminatory against women. But the questions which remains and which still need to be addressed by the law to fill the lacuna are:
1. Who are the police of morality?
2. Who are the judges of decent dress?

 

Joseph Muhia: Age is not a Hindrance towards Attaining your Dream

Friday, October 17th, 2014

The road that is built in hope is more pleasant than the road built in despair. Joseph Muhia Wangui, 17 year old boy from Gatundu Kimunyu, will be sitting for his Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E) examinations this year.

Joseph is the last born in a family of three and was raised up by a single mother. He comes from a poor background and just as his older siblings, Joseph dropped out of school in 2005 and opted for life on the streets.

“Life on the streets was hard. I could go on for days without food and the little I got from carrying luggage and collecting scrap metals, I lost it to the older boys on the street”

Action for Children in Conflict (AfCiC) began working with Joseph in 2011 when he came into contact with our street workers and has since, been a regular at AfCiC’s Working Children Centre in Majengo. Joseph had been in the streets for more than 5 years. He had been denied basic rights as defined in the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child especially the right to education.

Through the Children Lead the Way (CLTW) programme, AfCiC has helped him claim those rights – to make them his, and to help him understand the situation he has been in and to look to the future, to fulfil his dream.

At the centre Joseph has access to informal education, life skills and counselling, with the programme building up to a near full academic curriculum of Maths, English and Science, preparing him for his K.C.P.E examinations.

“I am grateful for the opportunity AfCiC has accorded me and the patience they have with me. On the streets I used to live in despair but now I am hopeful that my dream to become a lawyer is within my grasp”

To be able to sustain himself, Joseph was taken through the apprenticeship programme in 2013 where he was taken to a mechanic in Thika town to horn his skills. He is good at what he does. He also has a passion for education.

To be able to pay for his one roomed house in Kiandutu, Joseph hires a bicycle that he uses to ferry people from one point to the other. He wakes up at 5 o’clock and does his bodaboda (bicycle) work up to 9 am. He then heads to the Working Children centre for 3 hours to for numeracy and literacy classes in preparation for his upcoming examinations. Here he washes his clothes, takes lunch and gets counselling before heading to the garage from 2 pm for his mechanics apprenticeship programme.

“I am as prepared as I could ever be and I am confident I will pass my K.C.P.E with flying colours.

He is hopeful that he will get a scholarship that will help him pursue his secondary education and in the long run help him achieve his dream of becoming a lawyer.

“All my life I have seen how the vulnerable children in our society are neglected and mistreated and I have vowed that I will study hard and become a lawyer so that I can come back and address their plight.”

Joseph’s determination to become a lawyer just proves that age is not a hindrance towards attaining your dreams.

 

AfCiC Chips in towards Alleviation of Illiteracy

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Action for Children in Conflict (AfCiC) attended Kiambu’s County 50th International Literacy Day celebration at Ruiru Stadium dubbed ‘Literacy for Improved livelihood’. The aim of the celebration was to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals and the community.

The celebration acknowledged that literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people to make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration.

AfCiC recognises that literacy is a basis for lifelong learning and plays a crucial foundational role in the creation of sustainable, prosperous and peaceful societies and in May 2013, in partnership with the government they commenced an adult education class at the Thika Working Centre.

The government through the Thika District Adult and Continuing Education Office (DACEO) provided AfCiC with adult education instructors. This partnership assists in acquisition of knowledge, development of technical and vocational skills, values and attitudes, which empower learners to manage their resources efficiently within an informed decision making framework.

Apart from reading, writing and arithmetic lesson, the adult class is also taught Income Generating Activities (IGA) such as bead works and soap making so as to sustain themselves economically and in the long run help build the economy of the country.

AfCiC believes that this will help reduce the 38.5% (according to the Kenya National Literacy Survey of 2007) of adults and youth who lack the minimum literacy levels required for participation in national development.

During the celebration, Ruiru Deputy County Commissioner, Mercy Gatobu, read a speech from Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Science and Technology. Through the speech, the government committed to improving the quality of Adult and Continuing Education programme by addressing the shortage of teachers for the programme.

The government has also created a Special Board of Adult and Continuing Education after the repeal of the Board of Adult Education Act Cap 223 of 1966. The government believes that the creation of this board is a clear manifestation of the importance of the Adult and Continuing Education programme in the national education sector.

AfCiC believes that to achieve the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection, there is need of relevant stakeholder participation in addressing this multi-faceted enormity of adult illiteracy problem facing 7.8 million Kenyans.