African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Kenya: Child labour hit Counties in Nyanza Region due to poverty.

Posted by African Press International on May 29, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

At the age of 11 Joyce Adhiambo*, a resident of Homabay Town, wakes up at 4.30 am each day and tramps to a nearby river to fetch water for his bosses before embarking to firewood. Adhiambo also helps prepare and serve the family with meals and sweeps the whole compound among other chores.
Surprisingly, Adhiambo has no shoes but a half-heel chopped off red flappers which she uses to protect her cracked feet. She narrates that she found herself in this horrible situation four years ago at a tender age of 8 years after she lost both of her parents due to HIV.
After the death of her parents Adhiambo was adopted by her aunts in Homabay but her stay there was short-lived. Circumstances forced her to quit the place due to harassment from family members.
The poor girl while at her aunt’s place, she was forced to sleep on an empty sack.  Narrating to this scribe, the young girl said was often beaten up on the slightest provocation of her aunt who forced her to feed on leftovers that dropped from the family table.

 

Now Adhiambo is a young domestic worker who does know her fate. The child labor, which is now broadly defined as the employment of minors, is often a harsh and most exploitative condition among children.
But the vice has remained in practical both in developing and even industrial countries. The human cost of child labour leaves the victims gaunt, crippled, illiterate and sick.
International Labour Organization (ILO) that was founded in 1919 has since transformed into special agency of the United Nations (UN).The introduction of child labour conventions by ILO among members, including a minimum age of 16 years for admission to all kinds of work. While others including a higher minimum age for particular employment, medical examination and regulation of right work.
In early 21st Century, ILO was compelled to add the worst forms of child labour to its list including slavery, debt bondage (where children work to pay off loans owed by parents) prostitution and forced military services.
A growing concern now in Homabay County has been the increase in prostitution among young girls in urban areas especially in drinking spree. Some of the children have been forced in the ugly practice due to abject poverty.
The 1997 UNICEF report concerning child labour stated most employers try to hire workers who are easier or cheap to exploit. It was also estimated that over 3 million minors in Kenya engage in child labour, usually working under hazardous conditions.
The report also highlighted that the most vulnerable and weakest workers are children usually paid less than the adults and are often ignorant on their rights or how to protest against poor working environment.
“Poverty plays an enormous role in the phenomenon. Desperate for money, poor families around the world including Kenya are forced to push minors to increase overall income among the families. “The report read in part.
The poor families, the small contributions of child’s income or the assistance can make a huge difference between a bare sufficiency and hunger, the survey reveals.
In various towns of Homabay County, a stroll in the streets at night leaves one gasping for breath over the ages of girls frequently visiting clubs at night for prostitution.
A study carried town in seven districts in Kenya in 1997 by child Welfare Society of Kenya indicated that child prostitution is widely practiced in big towns. Some victims were as young as 11 years old. Malindi and Mombasa peaked underage children selling sex.
In Nairobi, the number of street children has risen to 60,000 with the Government estimating their numbers to grow at 10 percent annually. The children are often involved in drug trafficking, assault, theft, trespass and property damaging.
A survey carried out in 1996 in a lower class estate in Nairobi found that 30% of households employed children. In 1997 the figured dropped by 12%.

And in Homabay, about 30 children are in the streets in search for food with majority being young girls. Kisumu City is not spared either with about 30% who are at the age of going to school.

 

According to business fraternity street children have now become a menace as they steal from them to have a bit due to hardship they undergo.
In Kenya, a study of girls working as housemaids found out that 25 girls aged 9-16 years, 18 were HIV positive. Most of the girls had worked in homes had reported sexual abuse in all or most of them.
Statistics available in labour officer in Homabay region indicates that more than 15,000 underage girls in the region have been lured or forced into commercial sex work by wealth men.
According to Mary Achieng, a child rights activists in Homabay County, says that apart from prostitution, a high percentage of underage children in the region are involved in stone crashing, charcoal kilns and bricking making as others are employed as housemaids.
On the other hand, a survey in six districts in Homabay County reveals that most children drop out of school due to a rigid curriculum to an extent they prefer to look interesting jobs.
And in Kisumu City, Children are not spared either with some going sleepless night along the streets hawking boiled maize to earn a living.
Meet Josephine Atieno (not her real name), a former class 5 who had to drop out of school after the death of her parents to provide for  her younger siblings.
Atieno now sells boiled maize throughout the night at bar parks, clubs and stage especially to bar goers, bodaboda and matatu operators who lure them to sexual activities.
According to Atieno, she is just one of the examples of children hawking various food stuffs to have a meal on the table, a spot check by the writer shows that a good number of boys and girls are full in the streets across the Nyanza region.
Some of the children are sent to collect scrap metals by dealers only to be attacked by the owners who seriously assault them.
The hardship has now forced a good number of children to the streets in various counties such as Kisii, Kisumu, Homabay, Migori, Siaya and Nyamira thereby increasing the number of street children in the region.
Some of the children have now embarked on Commercial Sex at various clubs I the streets of Kisumu, Homabay Kisii among others without proper knowledge of HIV.
In every 20 of the girls in the social areas 10 are miners who have dropped out of school because of poverty and death of their parents.
According to these children, they are not in such kind of activities because they want but due to pathetic conditions and difficulties they are undergoing.
A spot check in Kisii, Migori and Nyamira the story replays the same scenario with some being used by drug peddlers to sneak drugs to their destinations.
This exposes them to greatest danger of drugs. This is rampant especially in Migori as it borders Kenya and Tanzania. The same story replays in Rachuonyo North District with children involved in fishing and harvesting sand to make a living. Some risking their lives by going inside the caves.
But along the lake shore of Lake Victoria children are fishing just to feed their siblings with some spending money they get to buy sex from commercial sex workers in these beaches.
This now calls for immediately concerned by the Children Department in the 6 Counties to ensure the well-being of children are catered for, this is according to various activists based in Kisumu and Homabay.

 

In tackling the poverty level in the counties, Governor Homabay Cyprian Awiti said his government is set to allocate about 30% to eradicate poverty through loaning the residents to start-up small business activities to earn a living. This now call for solidarity among the governors in Nyanza region to fight poverty so as to reduce cases of child labour, this according to Awiti.
 

END

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: