Every child needs protection from any form of abuse. Parents and caregivers have this responsibility on their shoulders. In addition, government institutions have a responsibility to safeguard the rights of children against any form of violation. Thus, ending violence against children is not a one person’s responsibility. Legal protection is key in protecting innocent lives from various forms child abuse. To this end, ICS-SP has a role to play. We support provision and access to intervention services to enhance child protection systems and approaches.
Access to legal aid, education and representation remains a challenge. Justice for the victims of child abuse remains a challenge. Through the Legal Protection Centre, over 700 cases are handled annually. Many cases still go unreported. This means affected children suffer silently without ever sharing their plight with anyone. Children fail to report perpetrators of these offences because they fear the consequences. In some cases, children are unaware of the abuse and assume it to be normal.
Strained relationships among family members also makes is hard to report cases of child abuse. When parents do not see each other eye to eye or have distanced themselves from children, chances of children not sharing their pains are high. This undermines the efforts of ending violence against children. Through partnership with other like-minded groups, ICS remains committed towards having a society that respects and protects the rights of children. A good example is CLAN. It continues to receive more clients seeking legal representation for their children. This, is strongly supported by CLAN’s efficacy. The impact is quite impressive. Fathers now appreciate the need to take care of children even after separation or divorce.
Paralegals support the work of legal protection in Kenya and Tanzania
When the rights of a child violated, what they need most is justice. Cases of parents and caregivers neglecting children are common. However, CLAN is giving families a reason to smile through interventions like mediation. Today, children who were almost giving up in life now have their needs met, including school fees. At the heart of ICS and its partners is not only ending violence against children but also helping dysfunctional families regain ground. For instance, besides CLAN offering pro bono legal representation it ensures that parents or parties involved honour their parental responsibilities. Thus, reconciliation is central in safeguarding the rights of minors through skilful parenting.
Paralegals enhancing child protection
While ICS and other partners play a key role in child protection. Among other responsibilities, paralegals monitor, train, and sensitize community members on child rights, abuse and referral systems. This is an important strategy of ending violence against children. When cases get to court, or during negotiations, they ensure that the rights of children are upheld to the letter. Mary Maduhu is an active paralegal trained by ICS on child protection systems. She attests that working as a paralegal requires partnering with other players including parents, village executive officers, teachers, police, gender, and children’s desk.
Abuse cases drop
As by 2015, the number of cases child abuse in regions where ICS operates had significantly dropped. For Maduhu, this is largely because of awareness among children on forms of abuse and collaborations. “I have only received and handled two separate cases since the beginning of the year; child labour and child neglect. These are very few compared to the number of cases I would receive or handle in the past two years.”
There is no substitute for competent, confident frontline child protection actors being given the time, space and authority to exercise sound professional judgment. ICS together with partners (REEP, CLAN, KAACR, and CLK) in collaboration with the Department of Children Services at County level do the following:
School-based violence remains prevalent, not only in East Africa where ICS operates, but also in other parts of the world. Day and night, children’s rights are violated while at school or in the course of acquiring education. >>
The Dutch Caroline Abels, portfolio manager of the Skilful Parenting program, recently traveled to Ivory Coast. Together with colleague Maureen from Kenya she resided in the West-African country for ten days to educate new Skilful Parenting trainers. Dive into her experiences! >>