A PRESENTATION ON THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY MEDIA GROUPS IN TACKLING HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Njuki  Githethwa & Faith Mwende of  KCOMNET TEL: +254 00202379949

Email: njukig@yahoo.com/   faymwe@yahoo.com

Website: www.kcomnet.or.ke

a paper presented during a counter human trafficking symposium for the faith based and grassroots organizations in east africa held at shalom house nairobi, 22nd to 24th november 2011

Background

Established in 1995, the Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET) is a national network of individuals, media practitioners, community communication groups, media professionals and non-governmental organizations committed to the promotion of community media and development communication in Kenya. KCOMNET advocates for the creation and sustainability of community-based media owned, controlled, and produced by, for, and about communities.

Our Vision

To be the key driver of the national community media movement and voice of social change in Kenya.

Our Mission

To champion and popularize community communication initiatives through representation, capacity building and policy advocacy for transformative social change in Kenya.

Slogan

“Community Communication-Giving Voice to Communities”

Our Key Objectives

The Kenya Community Media Network has, but is not limited to the following three key objectives: –

(i)     To lobby for the establishment of a dynamic communication regime in Kenya that includes community media as a third sector after public and private media

(ii)  To execute a rigorous training programme for community communication groups to make them strong and vibrant

(iii)      To act as a capacity building arm for individual groups and for zonal joint communication groups efforts.

Our Programs

KCOMNETS main programs include:

1.      Community Radio and Radio Listening & Production Groups

2.      Community based Information Resources and Documentation Centers

3.      Community based Folk Media i.e. art, drama, puppetry, song and dance

4.      Community driven Video Production

5.      Community Newsletters

The role of Community Media in Society

Community media is any form of media that is created and controlled by a community, either a geographic community or a community of identity or interest. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), The World Bank, and the European Commission recognize community media as a crucial element in a vibrant and democratic media system.

Community media is a platform which enables the “voiceless” to have a “voice”. This kind of media exists in many countries in all continents, and in media systems they usually stand in-between public broadcasting and private media outlets.

Experience has shown that participation is the key defining feature of community media; it is what places community media outside of traditional media models, in which audiences are passive receivers of messages. In the community media model, senders and receivers together create messages and meaning through participatory processes.

Community media enables marginalised communities to speak about issues that concern them at the local level, creating linkages between development, democracy and community media. This presents a snap-shot of community needs and aspirations and allows a community to map its future using the bottom-up approach. The historical philosophy of community media is to use this medium as the voice of the voiceless, and the mouthpiece of oppressed people, or by communities that have not been served by conventional communication structures.

More so, community media offers space for creativity and is also a tool for empowerment. Besides this, community media is able to integrate different mediums of communication e.g. drama, song and dance, storytelling, puppetry, radio listenership groups and community radio stations.

The role of Community Media Groups in tackling Human Trafficking

An effective media can raise the awareness level and can also bring reduce vulnerability to human trafficking and other crimes. Community media is capable of performing the following roles in preventing human trafficking:

§  Education and Training: This can take the form of workshops, songs, drama, dance, storytelling, poetry, live music, bands, community newsletters puppetry and radio listenership groups among others.

§  A Channel for Communication and Discussion: One of the roles of media is to open the channels for communication and foster discussions about human trafficking and implications on women, girls, men and boys. Addressing human trafficking in the community radio program can have an enormous impact on the society.

§  A vehicle for Creating a supportive and enabling environment: Community media can be instrumental in breaking the silence that envelopes the practice and in making positive changes in the society. For example, Radio Mang’elete which use the Kikamba language to address issues of the community.

§  Education through entertainment: For creating an efficacious awareness about human trafficking, the messages need to be informative, educative as well as entertaining as these are mutually exclusive.

§  Mainstreaming: Broadcasters need to mainstream the human trafficking issue across a number of programs. A coordinated, multifaceted campaign has greater impact than a single programme. Documentaries, concerts, songs, drama, public service announcements, competitions, hotlines, books and websites can be linked together to reinforce awareness, information and messages about human trafficking.

§  Putting human trafficking on the News agenda and encouraging leaders to participate: The more the leaders see and hear about human trafficking in news the greater the resources they invest in anti-human trafficking strategies, which in turn leads to increased media coverage of the issue and helps to sustain public awareness which again has an impact on leaders’ priorities.

§  Making every citizen a “reporter”: Citizens reporting like journalists may be the only way for human rights abuses and other violations of a criminal or environmental nature to be brought to face broad public scrutiny.

§  Encouraging participation: From an audience perspective, it means that it can influence the content in a very proactive way and it enables individuals to access a readymade platform through which they can share their opinions.

  • Policy Advocacy Work: Through campaigns against human trafficking aimed at raising public awareness, to give chance to women, men and young people to contribute to activities against human trafficking and to lobby government response to human trafficking issues. Awareness raising can also be pursued through the production and distribution of information education materials, using the media for a wider reach as well as visual materials, using the media for a wider reach as well as visual materials in public areas.
  • Organizing regular dialogue forums at the grassroots to disseminate relevant information on human trafficking.

Conclusion

Community media is a very essential tool for development and can be used to disseminate information on human trafficking. Additionally, community media plays a crucial role in addressing issues of the community and offers a chance for debate on everyday community issues. There is need therefore to collaborate and create linkages in order to use community media as a means to report news differently from the mainstream media.

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Where witch tag is a death sentence

Alternative text.

Kenga Charo Mangi, alias Midzanze, a Kaya elder at Kaya Godoma, speaks to the Sunday Nation. He claims to have powers to identify and cleanse suspected witches

Photo/GEORGE KIKAMI | NATION Kenga Charo Mangi, alias Midzanze, a Kaya elder at Kaya Godoma, speaks to the Sunday Nation. He claims to have powers to identify and cleanse suspected witches. With him are some of the suspected witches, and councillor Teddy Mwambire (second left).

By KIPCHUMBA SOME ksome@ke.nationmedia.com

In Summary

  • Grey hair in Ganze and Magarini is no longer a sign of wisdom. It no longer attracts respect from the youth.
  • In fact grey-haired men and women in the two constituencies (ranked among the poorest in the country) live in perpetual fear.
  • They are being hunted down like wild dogs and killed over allegations of being witches. And the killers are mostly their sons and other close family members.
  • The Sunday Nation tracked the fleeing old folks to the “village of witches” in Kaya Godoma.
  • We talked to the villagers and interviewed the political and administrative leadership of the areas.
  • The interviews paint a perfect picture of people stuck in traditional beliefs with little hope of redemption.

Mzee Kahindi Charo Ngoka, 69, begged his two sons to spare his life. They had tied him to a tree in his compound with sisal ropes.

He pleaded that he was not a sorcerer as claimed by his wife – the mother of his sons-turned-tormenters. But they would hear none of it.

“I cried like a baby as they hit me,” he told the Sunday Nation.

Four broken upper teeth and lacerations on his body are proof of the severe thrashing he received at the hands of his own flesh and blood that afternoon of January 2 at his home in Kibarani near Kilifi town.

They then trussed him up and locked him in a hut to await nightfall when they planned to burn him to death.

“I gave them life, now they wanted to take mine,” he said, reflecting on the events that have seared his memory.

After they left, he struggled and broke free from his bonds, undid the latch of the rickety door, and made it to a nearby bush from where he found the route to the chief’s office where he reported the matter.

When the police showed up, his sons had already fled. But they found his wife and two daughters who were more than willing to tell the officers why they believed the patriarch of the family was a sorcerer.

The three were arrested as accomplices to attempted murder and are currently being held at the Shimo La Tewa Women’s Prison.

Mzee Ngoka narrated his ordeal to the Sunday Nation at Kaya Godoma, where a refugee camp has been established for those banished by their community on suspicion of practising the dark arts.

The camp hosts 36 elderly people, both male and female, who have all escaped certain death at the hands of close relatives and neighbours.

The hunting down and killing of suspected sorcerers has become endemic in the Coast region.

Police say 20 people have been killed in Malindi alone in the past two years because they were believed to be witches.

They say the number could be higher since some of deaths that occur where there is little government presence are not reported.

But, even then, numbers alone do not tell the story of horrors that suspicion of practising witchcraft has wrought on the people of the region.

Wives have turned on their husbands, setting them up to be killed. Sons have turned on their fathers in what could pass as a fulfilment of the biblical sign of the end times in Matthew 10:21:

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.”

Families are disintegrating at an alarming rate because of suspected witchcraft.

In the case of Mzee Ngoka, it was his wife, Jumwa Kahindi, who first accused him of witchcraft six years ago.

She claimed that he came to her in a dream asking which of their seven sons he should kill in order to increase the potency of his magic.

“I had never been accused of witchcraft before, and I was really surprised that my wife would say such things about me,” said Mzee Ngoka.

“We have our share of marital problems, but that one took me totally by surprise.” They have been married for 49 years and have 14 children together.

But, fully aware of the dire consequences such an accusation could bring, he volunteered to take the traditional test to ascertain whether he was a wizard.

The test involves the accused and the accuser eating a specially prepared strip of pawpaw or mango that is administered by a traditional healer.

Local residents believe that the guilty party will not be able to swallow it — either the jaw will refuse to chew it, or the tongue will pop out or swell.

If one is found to be a sorcerer, the traditional process of cleansing begins in which the suspect loses all his or her powers. If found innocent, the accuser is compelled to pay a fine set by the accused.

Ordinarily, the whole process costs about Sh3,000, an amount that is out of reach of most residents of the poverty-stricken region.

Given that it is a life-and-death issue, Mzee Ngoka decided to sell a portion of his one-acre piece of land to take the test with his wife.

Not a wizard

But, on the appointed day, she fled to her parents’ home where she stayed for six years. In her absence, one of his sons offered to take the test with him.

He was not a wizard, the test revealed, and the matter was put to rest — until his wife came back in January 2011.

“First, she refused to stay with me in the same house. She instead went and lived with one of our daughters in a separate house.

“They refused to cook for me. But, whenever anything went wrong, they blamed me. She set the children up against me.

“I should be enjoying my old age with my grandchildren, but now I am hiding from my family,” he said.

For centuries Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastal region has been the source of a rich trove of stories involving witchcraft.

It is common to hear dramatised stories of how a beautiful girl suddenly changes into a black cat in the middle of the night or how cars of prominent people turn into goats at night and eat grass for fuel.

But the North Coast, home to the Giriama, is the worst-affected by the lynching of suspected sorcerers.

The Sunday Nation crew got the feel of the prevalence of the belief in witchcraft on a visit to chief Paul Mwambire’s office in Marafa location, Magarini constituency, Kilifi County.

As the team awaited their turn to talk to the chief, an old man was brought in by two young men.

Mr Mwambire later said the old man was the father of the two young men who had brought him in on suspicion of being a sorcerer.

“They claimed that he had acknowledged that he is a witch (sic), and they wanted him to officially record the confession.

“They wanted me to be a witness, but I refused. On most occasions these old men are pressured by family members to do so,” he said.

Marafa division has recorded a rise in the murder of suspected sorcerers lately. On the night of January 9, a 70-year-old widowed grandmother was slashed to death on suspicion of practising witchcraft.

Here, virtually everything that goes wrong – death, ailments, poverty, misfortune, failed relationships – is blamed on black magic.

Mzee Karisa Ngoa Mwaringa, a village elder in Kaguguta village, Magarini, believes witchcraft exists.

“Our people strongly believe in it. You cannot just wake up and tell them witchcraft is some sort of fancy imagination.

“It is here with us. Even the most educated – those working in Nairobi and elsewhere – believe in it. So how will it disappear overnight?” he asked.

But the killing of suspected witches is a new phenomenon, he said, shaking his head, then gazing silently into the distance, perhaps in silent reflection that, at his age, the same fate could easily befall him should one of his family members turn against him.

“A special ceremony was performed in which they were deprived of their powers,” the chief said suddenly picking up the conversation.

“This killing is a new thing. We were once revered elders; now we are hunted like dogs by our own children.”

Recently, he rescued a fellow elder in the village who had been accused by his family of being a sorcerer.

One of his granddaughters had accused the old man of burying juju in their compound.

On closer inspection, Mzee Mwaringa discovered it was just a fresh anthill. But still the family was not convinced.

“I had to strongly warn them that the law would be applied should anything happen to him.”

The reason for the strong caution, the chief said, was that the old man had become a marked man.

An accusation often has little to do with witchcraft; it has become a way of settling scores.

“If you dig deeper you will find there were family issues behind these killings,” said chief Mwambire.

Mzee Ngoka says his wife just developed hatred towards him after he discovered she was unfaithful.

“She even conceived by my brother’s eldest son,” he claimed, adding that she miscarried, and he forgave her. “But she was never the same.”

But most of the killings have an economic connection, especially where land is concerned.

“We had an old man who was accused by his sons of practising witchcraft. When the old man decided to leave the homestead, the sons sub-divided the land among themselves,” said Mzee Mwaringa

Even small disputes are known to elicit accusations of witchcraft.

Mzee Said Karisa Masha, a 61-year-old charcoal dealer, says a regular customer accused him of being a sorcerer when he went to collect money she owed him.

“She shouted that I had bewitched a neighbour who had been having health issues. It was near a marketplace and people chased me with stones and machetes.

“I was lucky the police rescued me in time,” he said. He said his accuser has refused to take the traditional test with him.

Some people in these villages have lost their lives on accusations that simply sound surreal to an outsider.

For example, on the night of February 12, 2010, Mzee Kahindi Kombe Nzai was hacked to death while he slept with his wife.

He had long been accused by neighbours and close family members, including some of his daughters, of metamorphosing into a spirit in order to sexually abuse girls at a nearby primary school.
No one has ever been convicted for his murder although two suspects were arrested and later released. Neighbours say this, too, was an inside job.

But his case is not unique. In the sparsely populated dry bushlands of Shononeka village, Sidi Bitoya Wanzau, about 80, was killed last September while tending her garden of chilli peppers. An unknown assailant slit her throat.

Although the motive of the attack is unknown, her eldest son, Mr Karisa Katana Kitsao, suspects it is related to suspicions of being a witch.

She had survived a severe attack in 2001 on the same suspicions which left her left arm paralysed.

“She was ready after this to take the test, but no one came to accuse her. So we thought that the matter had been settled, but it is obvious that somebody still bore a grudge against her,” he said.

He disclosed that his mother was first suspected of practising sorcery in the late 1980s when one of her sons died in a road accident.
“Some people said that she was not proud of her son’s success and bewitched him to die.”
No one has been arrested for the attack, although neighbours suspect a close family member was responsible.
“Whoever is daring enough to come and attack during daytime knows the movements and routines of his intended victim very well,” said a neighbour who did not wish to be named.

Kilifi district commissioner Benjamin Gachichio introduced a more sinister aspect to the killings.

“We have discovered that children kill their aged parents in order to avoid supporting them.

“This region receives little rainfall and, therefore, food is hard to find. Old people are seen as a burden,” he said.

The belief in witchcraft and the attendant killings of suspected witches present a sharp contrast to the international commercial image of Malindi and Kilifi.

Both towns are better known for their enchanting beaches that attract thousands of tourists every year.

Little Milan

There is such a significant settlement of Italian migrants in the two towns that Malindi is now referred to by the locals as “Little Milan”.

Formula One multi-billionaire Flavio Briatore has built a luxurious holiday hotel there called the Lion in the Sun and is constructing another one to be aptly named the Billionaires Club.

But when one moves inland from the pristine beaches of “Little Milan” and the opulence of some of its residences, the shocking reality that unfolds is that of a people lost deep in the abyss of poverty.

Ganze is a backwater constituency lacking in amenities such as piped water and accessible roads.

Neighbouring Magarini is ranked as one of the poorest constituencies in the country, and education standards in both areas are among the lowest in Kenya.

In fact, of the country’s 47 counties, the five in the Coast region – Kilifi, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Kwale and Tana River – held the bottom five positions in last year’s KCPE examination results.

It is under these grim circumstances that age-old superstition thrives.

“Poverty is increasing with each day, and people are looking for excuses to explain all the bad things around them,” said chief Mwambire.

Ordinarily, religion has played a key role in societies that have successfully fought the practice. But, though both Christianity and Islam are practised here, religion has had little impact on the local belief system.

“Whenever I go to these meetings, I usually go with a priest and an imam, but the locals just dismiss them as talking heads,” said Mr Gachichio.

And, in any case, a 2010 report by the Pew Research Centre, a US-based organisation that surveys major aspects of daily life in the United States and elsewhere, found that most Kenyans, both Christian and Muslim, still harbour a strong belief in witchcraft.

Florence Jaoko, the former chairperson of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, says the killings should be treated as criminal offences.

“There are no two ways about it. There is no justification for taking another person’s life whatsoever,” she said.

Art: I Deserve my Freedom and Dignity

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

Arts by Mike Mungai, Bwana Mdogo Arts

Although the notion of human dignity is at the heart of the major international human rights  instruments,  it  is  never  explicitly  defined  by  them.  They  provide  however  a valuable  guidance  for  the  understanding  of  this  concept  when  they  state:  first,  that dignity  is  “inherent…  to  all  members  of  the  human  family”  (UDHR,  Preamble); second,  that  all  human  beings  are  “free  and  equal  in  dignity  and  rights”  (UDHR, Article  1);  third,  that  “these  rights  derive  from  the  inherent  dignity  of  the  human person” (ICCPR and ICESCR, Preambles).

These  three  ideas,  even  though  they  may  appear  to  be  extremely  vague,  offer  a precious guidance for clarifying the meaning with which the notion of human dignity is used by international law:
a. The term “inherent” means “involved in the constitution or essential character of  something,”  “intrinsic,”  “permanent  or  characteristic  attribute of something.”  The  idea  expressed  in  this  term,  when  it  is  accompanied  by  the adjective  “human,”  is  that  dignity  is  inseparable  from  the  human  condition. Thus,  dignity  is  not  an  accidental  quality  of  some  human  beings,  or  a  value derived from some specific personal features such as the fact of being young or old,  man  or  woman,  healthy  or  sick,  but  rather  an  unconditional  worth  that everyone  has  simply  by  virtue  of  being  human. The  same  idea  can  be expressed  by  saying  that  all  human  beings  are  “persons.”  Indeed,  the  term “person” is not merely descriptive or generic (like for instance “mammal”), but prescriptive, a nomen dignitatis.

b. The second important consequence of the meaning that “human dignity” bears in international law is that basic rights are equal for all: if human dignity is the same  for  all  and  the  ground  of  human  rights,  then  all  human  beings  possess equal  basic  rights.  This  is  the  reason  why  discrimination or exploitation,  i.e.  the  unjust distinction  in  the  treatment  of  different  categories  of  people (social class or vulnerable),  is  directly contrary to human dignity.
c. The  third  statement  of  international  law  stressing  that  rights  derive  from human dignity, has also an important practical consequence: if basic rights are not given by authority, but are preexisting values which are inherent in every human  being,  then  they  cannot  be  legitimately  taken  away.

Considering  these  three  basic  features  of  human  dignity,  it  is  not  surprising  that this  notion  is  at  the  center  of  human  rights  instruments  prohibiting  practices  such  as torture,  inhuman  or  degrading  treatments,  slavery,  exploitative  working  conditions, discrimination, arbitrary arrests, etc.

Art: The Cruelty of Exploitation

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

Art  Bwana Mdogo Arts

Is there an answer to an old question; “how bad is exploitation?” . Some arguments say that exploitation is wrong because it is coercive, or degrading, or fails to protect the vulnerable. On the other hand it is true that exploitaters do gain at the expense of others and by inflicting massive losses on the disadvantaged parties. They do harm to their victims, even when their interactions are mutually advantageous, by failing to benefit the disadvantaged party as fairness requires. It is simply wrong  to gain as a result of exploitation at another’s expense.

Art: Wangari Maathai was a Symbol of Freedom

By Mike Mungai, Bwana Mdogo Arts

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

Wangari Maathai will always be a symbol of freedom to the many generations of Kenyans. Ngugi Wa thiongo’s words on her bibliography can be paraphrased as  “She was extra ordinary,  mesmerizing, she refused  to be bowed down by oppression and humiliation  in the pursuit of the excellent and the heroic in society.” Wangari Maathai is a great daughter of nature… the symbol of freedom and she represents everything that is against the oppression of the weak in the society. Find the publications of Wangari Maathai here.

Countering Human Trafficking Through Visual Arts

By Mike Mungai, Bwana Mdogo Arts (BMA)

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

The  visual arts speak to the eye in such an effective manner that no any other communication medium does. What impresses the eye, gets priority in the dissemination process.

Albert Einstein commenting on the  situation of the Black Americans said, “the greatest disease in America today is the treatment of the negro”. Today however the greatest disease world over today is  human trafficking. Efforts to address human trafficking should traverse all factors and processes that contribute to its continuity. Though this battle is hard,  in our different but small ways; we can prevent one more person, or two or three or a hundred thousand from falling prey to human trafficking.

Bwana Mdogo Arts is an organization established to educate, sensitize and entertain the population through the production of graphic story lines (comics), fine art images, cartoons and posters.

Bwana Mdogo Arts has a vision of educating, addressing issues of social economic justice, promoting peace and spreading joy through visual arts. The main premise of this budding organization is that, it is much easier for masses to understand that which they see. As such, Bwana Mdogo Arts strives to capture and graphically present real situations that run against the principles of common justice or those that contribute to the common good in a unique but ordinary ways. At times evil or good are latent and hard to decipher. However the process by which either good or bad occurs can easily be observed. In reality however, people focus on the latency and hence are by passed by important events. The main hope of BMA is that its illustrations will challenge the masses to become more humane and in turn help in the behaviour change.

Since 2009, BMA came up with a number of illustrations on human trafficking. The first and main one was posted on the KARDS counter trafficking portal. This illustration  introduced the online directory. In the picture were a group of people (a policeman, a Maasai, a pastor and a graduate) standing in a line and a small boy trying to identify a potential human trafficker. The title of the image was “who is a trafficker?” this is a question that is tricky to answer, since given different situations maybe all of the characters in the image contributed to trafficking in persons, one way or the other.

This was followed by more illustrations that culminated in the cover image on the KARDS-MM study. Over the years, Bwana Mdogo Arts as an entity has continued to come up with more and more illustrations, for use on banners, flyers, as posters and even illustrations for books. Some of these illustrations are posted on this blog. Click here to get to the counter human trafficking arts.

New Study on Law and Child Labour in Kenya

By Philip Wairire,  AFCiC Kenya. For the full report  follow the following link Rapid assessment of working Children in Thika final report

ILO considers that “child labour” is “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”. In similar terms, the UN Convention provides that child labour is any form of work that violates the four basic rights of children, namely survival, development, participation and protection.

Any work that threatens these rights is considered child labour and ought not be tolerated.

Action for Children in Conflict (AfCIC) has been conducting a study on the effectiveness of Kenyan law in curbing child labour in Kenya since 2007 using data collected around Thika Municipality.  The study is entitled “making the law work for children: A Case Study of Child Labour in Kenya. The main aim of the study is to examine the gap between the present legislative environment and the reality. This study will be useful to children organizations and also policy makers.

The preliminary work of this study was presented at the counter trafficking symposium for the faith based and grassroots organizations organized by Consolation East Africa in Nairobi on November 23rd 2011.

The AfCIC study has highlighted the challenges pertaining the interpretation of what constitutes child labour both locally and internationally.  That there is no universally acceptable definition on this area. However what is usually considered in the discourses of child labour are dimensions such as hazard, work effects and degree of involvement. The work involved therefore should not be harmful to the physical, emotional and mental development;  or one that denies children of their basic rights, the enjoyment of their childhood, potential and dignity.

The study sheds light on the international and local legal instruments available to protect children against labour exploitation. The international instruments are:

  • ILO Convention 138 on the minimum age for starting work (1973). This convention was ratified by Kenya in 1979.

ILO 138 defines “child labour” as: any work performed by a child under the age of twelve; any work other than “light” work undertaken by children aged twelve to fourteen; and “hazardous” work by children aged fifteen to seventeen.

  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) which was ratified by the Kenyan government in 1990.

The UN Convention defines a “child” as “below the age of eighteen years”. It stipulates in Article 32 that the child is to be protected from “economic exploitation” and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.

  • ILO convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour ratified in 2001 and lastly

ILO 182 calls on states to take immediate and effective measures to prohibit and eliminate the “worst forms” of child labour. These are specified to include:  (a) all forms of slavery and slavery-like practices, such as child trafficking, forced labour and forced recruitment into armed conflict; (b) using a child for prostitution or pornography; (c) use of children in illicit activities, for example, drugs; and (d) “hazardous” work.

  • ILO convention 184 on safety and health in Agriculture.

It specifies, at Article 16, that “the minimum age for assignment to work in agriculture which by nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out is likely to harm the safety and health of young persons shall not be less than 18 years”.

Kenya has also developed various  local instruments instruments to domesticate the international  conventions. Hence children are protected by:

  • The 2010 Constitution of the Republic of Kenya

Section 53 protects children from exploitative labour and promotes the best interest of the child.

  • Children Act of 2001

Section 10 protects children from economic exploitation that interferes with their education and sets the minimum year for labour as 16.

  • Employment Act of 2007

Part VII of the Employment Act makes  provisions on the on “Protection of the Child” (sections 52 to 65). However, it bears note that there are major contradictions as between this Act and the Children’s Act as to the age at which children should be employed. For one, while the Employment Act [sec 56 (2)] allows for children of between the age of 13 and 16 to be engaged in light work, the Children’s Act holds that only children above the age of 16 should be employed. The Act allows anyone to lodge a complaint if s/he witnesses the worst forms of child labour.

Some of the most important findings of the study are:

1. Kenya does not have up to date statistics on the extent of child labour in the country. The statistics available are those of 2002 by the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (“IPEC”) and the govenment survey of 2005/6. It is important that data is created so as it may be possible to understand the scale and scope of the problem in order to encourage effective interventions.

2. The domestic legistaltion has gone to a great extents to safeguard the welfare of the children. However acording to the reality, child labour is still very rampant in Kenya. Hence bringing about the need to bridge the law and the reality.

3. Both international documents and local documents have no single accepted definition of child labour. In Kenya while the Children Act of 2001 sets the minimum age at 16, the Employment Act sets it at 13. Hence bringing about the need for the Kenyan courts to harmonize the two instruments.

4. The introduction of universal free primary education in Kenya was an important intervention against child labour. However indirect costs such as providing food to retain the children in the schools have a bearing on the success of this intervention. This calls for a multi stakeholder involvement to meet this indirect costs to make this intervention a success.

5. Policy reforms to tackle inequality and poverty such as the community development fund (CDF), local authority transfer fund (LATF) and the street family rehabilitation trust fund (SFRTF) are also positive measures introduced that will definitely help in suppressing child labour. It is important that these resources target those who need them and that the data of their impact be made available.

6. The government formed a multisectoral committee at districts and provincial levels to oversee the extents of child labour. However the study found that no such committee exists in Thika. Hence the call for a need to start such a committee.

Lastly the AfCIC study recommends a new definition to harmonize the Kenyan instruments on the definition of child labour as follow: Child labour constitutes work undertaken by children under 13 alternatively any work that is not considered light that is undertaken by children between the ages of 13 and 16. The  study however leaves the readers to make their own definition of light work by giving an example of domestic work and harmful by giving an example of mining. Also it suggests that all work given to a child should done so in due consideration of the child’s age.

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