A Safe Haven for Children in Conflict

[fa icon="calendar"] Feb 14, 2020 12:00:00 PM / by Samuel Gamusa

Haven1
Inspector Juliet works to solve cases against children in the Child Protection Unit of the Kapenguria Police Station

Inspector Juliet Tuwei, 34, recalls an incident that happened six months ago. What she thought would be a restful evening, turned out to be one of her most dreadful. As she prepared to leave for the day, she received a distress call from a village chief informing her that three girls under the age of 18 had just undergone female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C). She dropped everything and quickly drove to the scene of the crime.

To ensure a proper investigation, she seized both the perpetrators of the crime and the victims so she could build a solid case.

She hurried all the girls, their parents and the perpetrators into the police van and drove to the police cells. At the station, with no other option available, they were all placed in the same cells to wait for the trial process to commence. “As per the law, the three children were kept in the cells as witnesses to the offence committed against them,” says Juliet. Deep down in her heart, Inspector Juliet, wished that the children would be separated from the other inmates. The cells had poor ventilation and children were exposed to dangerous criminal behavior, a problem that persists in many police stations.

“It is not only FGM and cutting-related cases that affect children, but also defilement cases, early marriages, child neglect and children in need of care. These are the most prevalent cases that we handle in West Pokot County,’’ says Juliet. “We also have extreme cases where children are also in conflict with the law, when they commit such offenses as rape, murder and stealing under the penal code,” she adds.

Driven by a desire to create a safe environment for children, World Vision Kenya, in partnership with the Kenyan government, constructed a child protection unit (CPU) within the Kapenguria Police Station to offer children separation from adults as they await their cases.

After only four months since the commissioning of the CPU by the governor of the county, an elated Juliet says, “This is a huge milestone for the children of West Pokot County, especially for their safety and hygiene. The CPU is equipped with modern social amenities like a counselling room, library, dining room and a bed capacity for sixteen children.”

The environment for Juliet and her colleagues at the CPU has drastically changed. To help improve interaction with the children and women, all staff, including herself, do not wear their official uniform to encourage the children to open up. Juliet and her colleagues have handled over 25 child-related cases in the past four months.

Fredrick Nyatigi, the officer in charge of children for West Pokot County, says, “I sincerely want to thank World Vision for the partnership that we had that ensures that lives of our children are safeguarded and protected, even in such circumstances. This CPU is a testimony of the efforts and the vision that we all share for the children of West Pokot.” In closing he shares, “Thanks so much, World Vision, for providing resources that helped construct this model CPU, the only one of its kind in the entire county.”

Topics: Child Protection, Impact Stories, Kenya, WV

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