Child sexual abuse is a pervasive crime entrenched in every culture and society. Empirical research on sexual violence against minors in sub-Saharan Africa indicates alarming rates of coerced sexual debut. Although sexual violence is increasingly documented in Kenya, there is a dearth of research on sexual violence against minors due to limited awareness, stigma, and methodological constraints. Previous studies have focused on post-sexual assault care, with researchers noting that minors were the main recipients of post rape care. As such the project designed a qualitative study on responses to sexual violence against minors in Kenya.
The study was conducted in Western Kenya in collaboration with the African Population Health Research Centre and Maseno University. The study aims to provide a better understanding of the context under which sexual violence occurs, factors influencing sexual violence against minors and investigate existing institutional/structural responses to sexual violence perpetration.
The researcher spent a year in the field (2016). She interviewed 61 key informants (judicial officers, police officers and social workers) and held 28 focus group interviews with school enrolled minors, unenrolled minors, teachers, community members, and leaders. She followed up 10 sexually abused girls as they interacted with service providers, community members and their families. Court and police files are being reviewed to understand the legal processes.
As of September 2018, one manuscript has been published. Three manuscripts have been submitted to the Journal of Interpersonal violence, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, and Reproductive Health Matters. The papers advocate for establishment of multisectoral guidelines on care and support of children who have experienced sexual abuse to enhance quality of care as findings indicate a lack of detailed guidelines and poor training of service providers. The papers also indicate a need for more shelters to be built to provide safety to minors who have experienced sexual violence and for provision of counselling services as they are inadequate.
Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a major global public health challenge. Literature review on CSA in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) demonstrates unacceptable levels of sexual abuse in minors. Weak systems compounded with social norms that are tolerant to child sexual abuse are perpetuating factors for continued abuse of children in Sub Sahara Africa. Nonetheless, most of the empirical evidence on sexual violence in SSA is quantitative, with focus on quantification of sexual abuse prevalence. The focus has left huge knowledge gaps in regard to individual, social, communal and societal factors influencing sexual abuse as well as structural/ institutional responses to sexual violence against minors.
In Kenya, research on sexual violence shows an alarming rate of minors presenting to health facilities for post rape care services. Research on the social, communal and societal context under which sexual violence occurs is non-existent. Additionally, little is known on the capacity and functions of relevant institutions mandated to prevent sexual violence against minors. Therefore, the study aims to provide an understanding of factors influencing sexual violence against minors and existing institutional/structural responses to sexual violence. Findings from the study will be used in proposing evidence based measures for prevention of sexual violence against minors. Additionally, they will form a basis for promoting a multisectoral approach towards prevention of sexual violence.
The study will take place in Western Kenya. Multiple data collections methods: document reviews, in depth interviews, focus group discussions and case studies will be employed. Study findings will be disseminated through meetings with research participants, a stakeholders workshop, a doctoral thesis and published articles.