Amongst a myriad of projects to save children’s lives, the Mully Children’s Family (MCF) has also been scaling up activities to contribute towards influencing pro-active responses at community level in child protection and gender based violence. Under MCF Access to Justice for Children Programme, emphasis has been on influencing positive changes in efficiency in the justice delivery system.
Access to Justice for Children program is a prevention strategy which focuses on initiating and implementing projects that eventually reduce the vulnerability of children at community level through community mobilization and action. The specific activities include; child rights education targeting the children and duty bearers including the police force, local leaders in private and public service and members of the public. Children’s rights are human rights hence the need for child protection against abuses that deny them rights to justice, education, survival and development.
In the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), all children are vulnerable whether within the normal family set up or living under difficult circumstances. The Convention has brought an understanding that children are neither the property of parents or guardians nor objects of generosity or goodwill, but are rights-holders, just like adults. Children are therefore individuals with rights and responsibilities appropriate to their age and stage of development, describing them as girls and boys and acknowledging the impact that laws, policies, attitudes and traditions can have on their enjoyment of rights.
In many cases, children’s access to justice has been hampered by lack of proper handling of their cases. Sensitive cases of sexual abuse including defilement, rape, and sodomy require professional approaches within the right environment and handled by well-informed personnel.
Several cases have been mismanaged due to lack of due diligence by police officers, local leadership and members of the public. Effective reporting and management of child abuse cases remains a gap in the local community mainly due to police phobia, lack of knowledge on post rape/defilement care by members of the community and police, stigma, cultural barriers, general lack of information among other barriers. In this light, MCF seeks to establish a Child/Gender Protection Desk at Matuu police station and facilitate further training of police officers and stakeholders on the operations of the Desk to promote best practice in Yatta Sub-County and neighbouring counties.
Some of the key milestones undertaken by MCF in Yatta Sub-County among many others include the inclusion of children matters as core component in Community Policing Strategy. We have also been able to successfully facilitate training of selected police officers and stakeholders in application of Sexual Offences Act (SOA 2006) in Child protection to ensure affected children access to justice through effective court process.