Wednesday , September 18 2019
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Do more to protect that abused child

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By GLADYS BURINI
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Mothers will do anything for their children. Nothing is too insane or unattainable. So much so that last week, a mother in Trans Nzoia County had their one-year-old boiled in salty water to cure cerebral palsy. Result, the child died. In her desperation, the mother believed the herbalist would cure the child rather than cause harm.

At first I was instantly angry at the mother for taking this course of action. But what other choice was available to her other than the conniving herbalist? To lead a mother frantic about her child to take such drastic measures, I wholly find fault with the herbalist.

Even in desperate times, mothers can be at fault for the abuse their children suffer. The same week in Maai Mahiu, a 10-year-old had his mouth sewn after a drop in school grades. By all means children have to be taught lessons where they are falling short of the standard, within reason and the confines of the law.

I cannot fathom what was going through the mother’s head to pick a needle and start sewing her child’s mouth shut and I am also missing the lesson. If you fail you don’t eat or speak? This was not going to bring those grades back up. It only caused injury, a medical bill, missed school days, psychological trauma and a criminal case for the mother. Not to impose more obligations on teachers, parents have to be educated on how to handle a poor report card. It is no longer enough to hand over grades and positions without explaining why a child performed the way he/she did. If you want to see these children back in your classroom, protect them from the wrath of parents who only care about good grades at any cost.

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The idea that a child may never be seen again is not that farfetched. On Monday, a father in Elgeyo-Marakwet shot dead three of his children while three others are nursing bullet wounds. My heart is breaking for children. Your parent entrusted to you and you to them picks a gun, aims it at you to kill you. What chance do you stand with strangers?

Last week in Bomet, a two-year-old was hacked to death after the mother’s husband returned home after serving five years in Kamiti prison. Another two-year-old was retrieved dead in Mathioya River and the parents are suspected of murder. I feel helpless writing this. All these children died at the hands of their parents.

Children are running out of time and they have no one to turn to. They are running away from their parents and strangers but they are not fast enough. Yet we have forgotten about children at risk in this country.

I have not heard a single Member of Parliament, senator or governor call for more measures to protect children in Kenya. Meanwhile, every week a number of news reports feature tragic stories of child deaths, abuse and defilement.

How many more children have to die before any action is taken? Last Saturday, Felix Sidney died after being run over by the Deputy President’s press car. Will the driver face charges or will this case be  thrown under the carpet?

Let’s make children a priority before we lose a generation.

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