An investigation into the causes and effects of child sexual abuse in Kibera slum Nairobi
Waithaka, Gladys N
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Sexual abuse is a vice that occurs in all-social and ethnic groups. It is a vice that shocks and traumatizes the victims and undermines the status of children and women in any society. Yet it is largely suffered in silence. The study was designed to investigate the causes and effects of child sexual abuse in Kibera slum, Nairobi. Specifically, the researcher sought to: establish the factors that determine reporting of cases of child sexual abuse, explain approaches that can lead to prevention of child sexual abuse and to identify the problems and challenges that child sexual abuse victims and their family experience in trying to access healthcare services. Data was collected by use of both qualitative and quantitative methods with the interview as the main technique of gathering data. A total of 105 respondents between the ages of 13 to years were interviewed. The respondents included: 56 pupils from Olympic Primary school, 17 key informants and 32 Kibera slum community members from four villages namely Laini Saba, Lindi, Mashimoni and Kianda. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used in the data analysis. There were various reasons that the respondents cited as being the contributing factors to the rising cases of child sexual abuse. These included: poverty,overcrowding, societal disintegration, drug or substance abuse, parental negligence and the prevalence of HIV / Aids. The study established that the prevalence of child sexual abuse among the respondents was about 56%. The forms of sexual abuse reported included: incest,defilement, early child marriages, child prostitution and child pornography. Other forms also mentioned are sodomy and kidnapping of children with the intent to indecent harm. Generally, victims of child sexual abuse and their families did not report the assaults despite that, 70% of the sexual abusers were known to them. Out of the 56% cases of child sexual abuse that were noted, only 12% were reported. Various reasons were given for the low reporting rate of child sexual abuse cases. The reasons included: fear of embarrassment and stigmatization, fear of family disintegration, lack of faith with the law enforcers, children were too intimidated with fear and threats. The study revealed that child sexual abuse could have both dramatic and subtle impact on the child. The effect of sexual abuse depended upon: the age and developmental status of the child, the child's role in the abusive situation, the disclosure of the incidence, the child's relationship to the offender and the reactions of the child's family after abuse disclosure. The effect of child sexual abuse was manifested in physical, behavioral and emotional symptoms. There were various strategies that the respondents noted that should be put in place to help curb the rising cases of child sexual abuse. These included:castration, death, life imprisonment and rehabilitation of the sexual abusers. In conclusion, the researcher, on the strengths of the above findings notes that awareness of child sexual abuse is a vice that requires further study. The reporting of cases of child sexual abuse is very low. Education campaigns by both the public and the private sector on child sexual abuse prevention need to be intensified. Women should be empowered economically so that they are able to take action against their children being sexually abused by their husbands and relatives. The women should be able to fend for themselves and their children without necessarily having to depend on their spouses. More centers should be put in place where sexually abused children can be housed in cases whereby a sexually abused child is under the care of an abusive parent especially the father. Some cultural practices like those that encourage young initiates to have sexual intercourse as a rite of passage thus putting children at a risk of sexual abuse need to be done away with. Such practices put children at the risk of sexual abuse need to be done away with. Social taboos against incest influence the reporting of such offences. For example, the 'sanctity' ofthe family and social expectations that hold that children are the property of their parents makes it difficult for outsiders to intervene on matters that are regarded private and confidential and that such interventions would amount to pervasion of privacy.
University of Nairobi, CEES, Kenya
(data migrated from the old repository)