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Child sexual harassment increases 26pc during coronavirus lockdowns


A girl who was defiled and got pregnant in Uasin Gishu during an interview on April 22, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

Sexual abuse among children rose last year when companies implemented working from home to protect employees from Covid-19.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows that defilements increased to 6,801 in 2020 from 5,397 in 2019, a 26 percent increase.

Although remote working and the closure of schools helped contain the spread of the virus in some ways, it exposed vulnerable children to sex predators who interacted with them more often.

“Persons reported to have committed offences of defilement increased by 26 percent from 5,397 in 2019 to 6,801 in 2020, and accounted for 79.4 percent of all crimes against morality while incest increased by 23.8 percent over the same period,” notes the 2021 Economic Survey.

However, the report indicates that cases of sodomy decreased by 37 percent with bestiality by five percent during the period.

“The number of persons reported to the police to have committed crimes against morality increased by 21.2 percent from 7,064 in 2019 to 8,565 in 2020.”

Nairobi County command station reported most sex crime cases at 4,918 followed by Kiambu (3,362), Nakuru (3,334), Kisii (3,087) and Meru (2,797).

Counties with the least sex offences being Mandera (261), Wajir (267), Samburu (364), Elgeyo Marakwet (507) and Kericho (537).

Overall, the report notes that more men are perpetrating sexual harassment than women at nearly 79.6 percent. On the other hand, women only account for about 20 percent.

Nairobi leads with reported cases at 3,890 followed by Nakuru (2,765), Kisii (2,567) and Kiambu (2,470). The least being Mandera (214), Wajir (247), Lamu (365) and Tana River (373). Likewise, counties that reported more women sexual harassments include Nairobi (1,028) followed by Kiambu (892), Meru (651) and Kisii (520). The least being Wajir (20), Mandera (47), Lamu (58) and Marsabit (65).

With job losses necessitated by job cuts and closure of companies, the report notes that homicides cases rose by 11.3 per cent from 2,240 to 2,494 in the period. Out of this, murder and manslaughter accounted for the highest share of homicides at 75.3 percent.

“The number of persons reported to have committed infanticide, murder and manslaughter increased by 44.4, 16.6 and 5.4 per cent, respectively. The total number of persons reported to have committed robbery, break-ins and theft decreased by 25.3 per cent from 25,559 in 2019 to 19,103 in 2020 with general stealing and break-ins, accounting for 40.6 percent and 22.8 percent, within this category, respectively.”

But the report notes that persons reported to have committed theft of stock, theft by servant and theft of vehicles, among others, decreased by 13.8, 22.2 and 29.4 percent, respectively, while robberies declined by 4.7 percent to 2,924 in 2020.

“The total number of persons reported to the police for crimes related to dangerous drugs, criminal damage, economic crimes, corruption and offences involving police officers decreased by 33.8 percent from 16,166 persons in 2019 to 10,706 persons in 2020. The number of persons reported to have been involved in acts of corruption decreased from 388 in 2019 to 195 persons in 2020, representing a decline of 49.7 percent.”

Moreover, the number of persons reported having committed offences relating to dangerous drugs declined by 40.9 percent from 6,867 in 2019 to 4,060 last year while those reported to have committed economic crime reduced from 4,383 in 2019 to 3,077 in 2020.

“Moreover, the number of police officers reported to have been involved in crime declined from 179 in 2019 to 79 in 2020.”

The report also notes that the total number of reports for investigation decreased by 36.2 percent from 3,482 in 2018/19 to 2,221 in 2019/20.

Similarly, reports referring to the public organisation for appropriate action more than halved from 921 in 2018/19 to 448 in 2019/20 while complainants advised on where to channel their grievances decreased from 3,803 to 2,308 over the same period.

“Reports whose investigation were completed and forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) declined by 30.3 percent from 234 to in 2018/19 to 163 in 2019/20 due partly due to change of focus by the commission to prioritise cases, which were more complex and take a longer time to finalise in terms of investigations.”

Also, 41 out of 44 files forwarded by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to the ODPP in 2019/20 with a recommendation to prosecute were accepted compared to 77 out of 78 in the previous year.

On the other hand, files recommended for closure and accepted by ODPP decreased from 31 to 20 over the same period, representing a drop of 35.5 per cent.

“The proportion of reports awaiting action by the ODPP to the total reports forwarded decreased from 21.8 per cent in 2018/19 to 17.8 per cent in 2019/20.”

Likewise, the number of environmental crimes reported to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) declined 67.2 percent from 396 to 130 with air pollution recording the highest proportion at 43.8 percent followed by illegal movement or dumping of waste with a share of 27.7 percent of all recorded crimes.

“Air pollution cases and those involving illegal movement and dumping of waste significantly reduced from 157 and 227 in 2019 to 57 and 36, respectively, over the same period. The decrease was due to the implementation of the Covid-19 precautionary measures such as working from home that resulted in reduced reports by the public and inspections by Nema,” reads the report.