18th May: Children Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day.
I wrote about a young girl’s grandmother last year. She was heading to Milimani Courts as a final witness to a three-year-old dragged rape case of her granddaughter. She was their last hope after her granddaughter went mute voluntarily after various sessions of her- being asked to describe the ordeal. This is not the 1st case. I also wrote about the different MCA s that are sexually exploiting and abusing underage girls and no case has been followed up with them. I also wrote about the increased concern in the number of boy children gang raped in informal settlements.
I write, not only as a social change agent but also as a soon to be mother. A third of Kenyan girls are sexually exploited and abused, while close to 20% of boys are used and abused. This means that whichever child I have, he/she or they are at risk of sexual exploitation and ill-treatment. I write as a woman that understands the pain of watching the ones you love get lost in their thoughts and lose themselves completely.
A group of children are playing outside my house. Girls and boys alike. I stay in an apartment with high walls that are secured with barbed wire. I live on the 5th floor. Our apartment is gated- tends to keep intruders away. Whenever anyone leaves the gate open, yet they have the key- I always take a minute or 2 of their time, the time they couldn’t spare to lock the gate to give them a lecture on why certain security measures were put in place in the 1st place.
Durham, a sex offender and paedophile, a missionary in Kenya from the USA was described as “an emotionally vulnerable teenager” who was struggling with “sexual identity and development” while also being a devout Christian. This statement was voiced after raping and sexually molesting by force or threat four children ranging in ages from 5 years to 14 years — some multiple times — in a span of just 33 days.
“How is your day like Ella?” I have been asked most days especially since I spend my days advocating for social change, gender equity, equality, inclusion and diversity. Do I live a healthy life? What kind of a woman am I? Well, an ordinary woman I must confess. The kind that can describe my entire morning and night and then talk about my fears as a soon to be young parent.
1 AM, I want to roll over but I cannot. I sleep next to a boa constrictor. I pull away after a long struggle and move to the furthest end of the bed. He smiles subconsciously, opens one eye and then shakes his head and goes back to sleep. He never snores but my friend Tasha, celebrating her 7th anniversary this year tells me he will eventually snore. “He is gonna make you so mad with his snores, yet his amazing peaceful face will melt your heart. I speak from experience.”
5:46, I roll over.
Feels like 2 AM to me. Takes me back to those rare days in high school when you would wake up only to realise that it is 3 AM and you still have 2 hours to sleep before your terrible day begins. Before I can fully fathom everything- I see the light through my eyelids. Is this THE light?
THE light turns out- the lights were switched on. Whhhhaaaaatttt? Who dares turn on the lights at 5:46 on a Saturday? So, I roll over. It turns out; I am not in my dorm room five years back- there is a tall and super handsome man standing in the middle of the room. Our room. He is doing everything hastily. He is running late. They have a big game today. I try to get up and help out. He gestures me to go back to bed. I smile, he stares. “Go back to sleep; you need that sleep.” He says and packs God knows what in his bag. God, I hate that bag. He never lets me take it to the dry cleaners because that is where he holds his dirty team uniforms.
So, I close my eyes. Drift away. That man makes me happy. In a million years I never thought I would end up with him- no freaking way. I remember watching the show WAGs and laughing hysterically at those women. WAGs is that hilarious show on the Wives and Girlfriends of Sportsmen. The show on those beautiful women who make their hair and have notably similar accents. The women who barely have any worry in the world because their men got them covered but things are different with me. I still work my ass off- which impresses him. I wish I could stay home more than a month. Hats off to house wives but that is the hardest job for me- it is tiresome. Sigh. So, I try and leave the house.
See? I am a regular woman. Just like you. Why don’t you advocate for the rights of children and women?
We are having our first baby in 5 or 6 months- something I have talked about a lot. It is an overwhelming feeling. I remember peeing on a stick and laughing hysterically when I got the two lines. I was going to be a mother! Can you imagine that? A young mother at that. I got my 1st viability scan and saw the tiny one and freaked out because it dawned on me… I was going to not only love someone else unconditionally in my house but also worry about them as well. Today, I write as a worried soon to be parent.
How many emotionally vulnerable men will be excused for being paedophiles. How many of our MCAs might get away with exploiting my child? How many bills will be passed for perpetrators and rapists? How safe is my kid as an inferior to a Middle-class citizen? How many articles have you seen on the mainstream media addressing abuse against children? Prove me wrong or make me happy and share those articles including your own- so that we can sensitise each other on what’s happening.
On Children Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, let us rise.