Sex predators are lurking everywhere

Published onEast African Standard here

By Dann Okoth

Be warned, a paedophile could be lurking somewhere in your neighbourhood, learning institution, church or even home.

And as technology transforms the way we communicate, sexual predators have become savvy to lure your child into sexual slavery and indignity.

News that a pastor was found defiling children and that a wealthy businessman was defiling girls in turns in his compound may have been a tip of the iceberg. New data suggest paedophilia is rising. Statistics from Children Legal Action Network (Clan) show that more than 20 children per month are sucked in the trade in Nairobi alone.

The cases range from sodomy, defilement, indecent assault, and incest.

“These incidents happen in learning and religious institutions, neighbourhoods, and even in homes,” says Edward Ouma, director Clan.

“The aim of the predators is to gratify their sexual need. There can be intercourse with a child, or forced arousal or oral sex. The children are also forced to watch pornography or engage in adult-sex talk.”

But the modern paedophile is not the social misfit, or crazy man prowling the village, they are people of high societal standing and professional background.

They may be clergy, teachers, businessmen, doctors, or political leaders. The common factor is they have a liking for sex with children.

“Perhaps this camouflage makes it more difficult to detect, apprehend, and prosecute these perverts,” he says.

And they have devised ingenious ways to get through to your child. The latest avenue is the Internet where they lure minors through the various chartrooms – urban child with access to computers are more vulnerable.

The predators establish a relationship by posing as young people over the Internet. They strive to win the trust of the child over time before establishing contact – the underlying characteristic here is patience.

Paedophiles like situations where they have children under their care. They like to work in places where they get access to children like in kindergartens, day-care centres, children’s homes, and orphanages. Those who do not have experience even train as teachers and child carers.

The predators can even sodomise boys or defile girls as young as a-day-old.

A paedophile is more likely than not to defile or sodomise a child that is known to them. They lure the child with small gifts like sweets and toys.

Yet others like tourists who come for the sole purpose of having sex with children, use adults to get ‘the objects of their fancy’.

“The business is lucrative. The men and women behind it are extremely wealthy. They are also very smart and intelligent, which makes them very dangerous as well,” says Ouma.

The magnitude of the problem is best captured in its distribution. The hotspots include major urban areas like Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Eldoret due to their cosmopolitan nature with locals and foreigners involved. The coastal region is also severely affected due to sex tourism.

Paedophiles, Ouma explains, go to great lengths to cover their tracks. “They use threats, intimidation, and bribery to silence their victims,” he says.

“A significant number are dangerous. Even those working in the area of child rights must be careful while dealing with child sex predators,” he says.

But even within the ‘safety’ of our own homes, our children are not safe. Not even those in the so-called rural homes.

Dorcas Kwamboka, a resident of Kawangware, Nairobi, had trusted her neighbour who is a university student with her two-year-old daughter for far too long.

“I found out to my horror that he had repeatedly defiled my child while showing her pornographic materials on television,” she recounts.

“The problem is we never suspected there was something sinister behind his closeness to the child. We could leave him with the child for a whole day while we attended to our businesses,” she says.

But for three consecutive days in July, last year, the 26 year-old student raped the child, while her grandmother, under whose care she was left, slept in the next room.

“I suspected something was wrong when the baby started crying while pointing at her private parts as I bathed her. On taking her to the doctor, he was informed the baby had been defiled,” she says.

Despite being assisted by Clan to take the matter to court, she says the case has dragged on due to ‘lack of evidence’.

“What is more shocking is that the suspect has engaged the services of a child rights organisation where his sister works to argue his case,” she says.

She claims the court had rejected evidence presented before in the initial hearing because ‘a toddler’s testimony is not admissible in a court’.

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