Child Labor in Kenya – Child Protection

What is child Labour

Child labor is the exploitation of children through any form of work that prevents children from their ability to attend regular school and is mental, Physically, socially, or morally harmful.

Child labor in Kenya is illegal and any person who is responsible for it and found guilty of it is liable to a fine not exceeding KES 200,000 or to an imprisonment of not more than one year or both. This is a situation where a child provides labor in exchange for payment of either money, gifts, or favors.

According to the Kenyan law under the Employment Act, 2007, and the Children Act, a child is a person below the age of 18 years. Children in Kenya are engaged in the worst forms of child labor either by close family members, friends, or strangers. Kenya Police have arrested many underage sex workers in recent years rising concerns on child protection.

As Kenya is increasing child officers to fight against child labor, child misuse, and exploitation, parents still remain a barrier. Many of Kenyan parents have directly or indirectly engaged their children in child labor either in an excuse to bring a plate on the table or to take advantage of cheap labor.

Exposure of children to money and child labor has affected their education and social life. One child from a public school in Nairobi hit the headlines after exposing how his parent sends him at night to sell sweets and groundnuts along the busy roads of Nairobi. A teacher noted the child was always sleepy, tired, and yawning in class. She engaged the child in a conversation where the child revealed the work he does at night.

The other main cause of child labor is cultural values. Kenyan culture encourages children to work to develop skills. Children are considered assets to generate income in a time of poverty. Children should, therefore, be given work at home early in life and be obliged to assist parents.

Other reasons include educational problems, like distance from school, poor quality of education, over-crowding, inability to support schooling (food, uniforms, exercise books, school fees, etc.); family disintegration due to divorce; various conflicts, war, and civil strife; drought and resettlement; orphanhood due to AIDS; and rapid urbanization.

Some journalists made an effort to reach the mother of the child and the get the truth of the matter. They found the single mother of five living in one of the slums of Nairobi who struggles to put a single plate of food on the table for his young kids. She confessed to having been sending her two older kids at night to sell “Njugus” and sweets along the busy roads and streets of Nairobi.

Some organizations where waken up by the incidence and began campaigns to educate mothers on the dangers of engaging children to child labor and money. The government of Kenya has also put strict rules to monitor every child within all locations with child officers placed to protect every child.

Factors leading to child labor

Lack of Education

Education is the process of acquiring skills, Values, Beliefs, and Habits that is very important to children. Most of the children have gone through Primary education in which in Kenya is free, They are provided with books that their parents cannot afford, Uniforms, and other Learning materials. However, around 40 percent of the children do not Transition to secondary education leaving most of them for exploitation. In 2018 the government of Kenya began to roll out free secondary education for all Kenyans who have not had the privilege to attend Secondary education.

Large Family

In most cases in Kenya especially in congested areas such as the slums, parents have more than five children. The large family may cause child labor due to the low cost of living hence promoting child labor. The children at a young age are told to go and work hence leading to their exploitation.

Low Income

Most parents in the slums have no source of income, what they get is what they eat. When it comes to their children they practice, drug peddling, street hawking, domestic work, and sex work. The commercial sexual exploitation of children tends to be more prevalent in tourism-heavy areas which include the capital city — Nairobi — and the coast. Worldwide 218 million children between 5 and 17 years are in employment; 152 million are victims of child labor. Almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labor.

Consequences of child labor

Children are exposed to severe injuries while at work. They should be protected by the Government in order to prevent social, economic, and physical harm, which is to affect them during their Lifetime and these injuries include:

There are General injuries and abuses on children like cuts, burns, and lacerations, fractures, tiredness and dizziness, excessive fears, Depression, and nightmares.

Sexual abuse is highly condemned by the Government, particularly sexual exploitation of girls by adults, rape cases, prostitution at a young age, early and unwanted pregnancy, abortion, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS, drugs, and alcoholism.

There is also Physical abuse that involves corporal punishment, emotional maltreatment such as blaming, belittling, verbal attacks, rejection, humiliation, and bad remarks.

When it comes to Emotional neglect a child feels less love from the family members and affection, resulting in loneliness, Depressions, and hopelessness, that it can lead to health issues such as ulcers.

Another consequence is Physical neglect like lack of adequate provision of food, clothing, shelter, and medical treatment. Most of the children don’t have the shelter they sleep outside, some of them do not have access to food and medical attention where most of the children are not immune to diseases such as Malaria

Lack of schooling results in missing educational qualifications and higher skills thus decreasing their life in poverty. Competition of children with adult workers leads to depressing wages and salaries. Apart from the above, lack of opportunity for higher education for older children deprives the nation of developing higher skills and technological capabilities that are required for economic development/transformation to attain higher income and better standards of living.