As part of our ongoing efforts to end sexual exploitation in Kenya, together with our partner Trace Kenya, we have released a joint advocacy brief, Enhancing policy responses to addressing Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) in Kenya. The Advocacy Brief aims to support civil society organizations to improve legal, policy and other responses to child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA) in Kenya.
Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Kenya
Every year, over 400 million children around the world are exposed to child sexual exploitation and abuse (CSEA). Child sexual exploitation and abuse is defined as any exploitative and abusive sexual activity involving a child. In many cases, CSEA leads to a lifetime of physical and emotional trauma for survivors.
In Kenya, where many cases of CSEA go unreported, and there is no single national database for recording cases, it is not possible to quantify the scale of the problem. However, evidence shows that CSEA is becoming increasingly common across the country. The prevalence of CSEA in Kenya has been exacerbated in recent years by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With CSEA increasingly being perpetrated online and through the use of digital technologies, Kenya, a technology hub in East Africa, has not been immune to the disproportionate growth in the prevalence of online CSEA, including transnational organized crimes such as sex trafficking and the production and distribution of child sexual abuse material. For far too long, CSEA has occurred in secrecy and been associated with shame, allowing the violence to continue.
Enhancing Policy Responses to Addressing Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Kenya
In 2022, together with Trace Kenya, we examined existing laws, policies and other measures aimed at preventing CSEA and protecting children in Kenya, assessing their content and enforcement against provisions in international and regional treaties and good practice. Challenges in Key legal, policy and other preventative and response measures were also identified from existing research, including the Out of the Shadows Global Index, and from local stakeholders with on-the-ground experience and expertise on CSEA.
This information offered an understanding of some of the challenges and opportunities regarding prevention and response to CSEA in Kenya.
The resulting advocacy brief offers a roadmap for civil society organisations to engage state actors and advocate for policy reforms to address CSEA in Kenya. Key recommendations are highlighted below.
The Way Forward: Education
- Raise awareness of newly adopted laws and policies, in particular, the Children Act (2022) and the National Plan of Action to Tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (2022-2026), within the law enforcement and justice sectors, as well as CSOs and communities, for example through the delivery of legal training sessions and/or the publication of accessible explainer guides.
- Design and deliver tailored, trauma-informed training for all staff involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of CSEA, including legal, medical, administrative and support staff.
- Ensure that the justice system is tailored to the needs of survivors.
The Way Forward: Collaboration
- Coordinate efforts by the government, the private sector, CSOs and grassroots organizations to work in partnership.
- Develop, resource and implement laws, policies and programs that address the economic, social, and environmental factors that underlie CSEA.
- Streamline services for survivors of CSEA, including by pooling resources and working across sectors and jurisdictions.
- Work with the government to ensure that the justice process is adapted to meet the needs of child survivors, with specially trained staff, child-friendly spaces and proper accountability measures.
- Adopt and apply approaches that uphold the best interests of the children and ensure adequate resources are allocated for long-term support systems that promote the well-being and safety of survivors and their non-offending caregivers.
The Way Forward: Prevention
- Raise awareness among those working with vulnerable communities of the services that exist to prevent CSEA and how to support at-risk children.
- Develop public awareness programs targeting those who are hardest to reach, including children who are out of school, children with disabilities, and children living in remote places or in humanitarian settings such as refugee camps.
- Connect survivors of CSEA with evidence-based support networks that have both the competence and the capacity to provide long-term, holistic support that takes into account the needs and circumstances of each person.
- Develop mentorship programs for survivors and their families to provide children who have been exploited or abused with a support system and establish evidence-based peer-to-peer mentoring schemes in schools and communities
We look forward to continuing the work to end child sexual exploitation and abuse in Kenya and around the world.
Want to learn more about efforts to end sexual exploitation in Kenya and around the world? Download the full brief or join our Changemakers Network, an international network of changemakers, from government ministers and UN bodies to civil society and human rights lawyers, to learn from one another and drive forward the vital work to make gender equality a reality.