Kenyan community acts to protect local children

In the Tunyo community of Kenya’s Rift Valley, community leaders are taking steps to protect their children from abuses like child labor, female genital mutilation, and parental child neglect. Increased support from other countries, like the United States, could further empower local communities as they seek to create safe spaces for their young ones.

By Jessica Bousquette, World Vision U.S., and Kenneth Kibet, World Vision Kenya
Published January 8, 2013 at 12:00am PST

What happens when silenced children are encouraged to speak up?

“Children can now report any form of violation to local authorities, and they would be listened to,” says Edwin Seronei, a community leader in the Tunyo community of Kenya’s Rift Valley.

“You could not hear such in the past. Children feared further abuse if they reported offenders, who are mostly family members.”

Edwin identifies child labor, female genital mutilation, and parental child neglect as the three leading abuses suffered by children in his community.

Edwin is one of 30 people who participated in a community child rights and protection workshop organized by World Vision. He helps protect children in his community by monitoring and reporting any child abuse cases to World Vision and other relevant authorities.

Community takes action

Tunyo community leaders are also using their voices to ensure that their children are protected from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence before they happen.

World Vision works with the community and leaders, like Edwin, to create a protective environment for children and ensure that children who are abused, neglected, or exploited can access the legal, educational, physical, and mental health services they need.

As a result of a child rights and protection workshop last year, community members established area advisory committees to educate other community members about the rights of children.

The U.S. contribution to the fight against child exploitation

Local community partnerships are essential in order to create a safe environment for children. But support from other countries, like the United States, is also invaluable.

The United States has been a significant leader in the effort to end global child slavery and exploitation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) is one way the United States works to protect children like those in Edwin’s community.

The TVPA created the first comprehensive federal law to address modern-day slavery in the United States and around the world. However, this important piece of legislation expired in 2011, as a result of congressional inaction, and is still waiting for reauthorization.

The TVPA contains critical tools that would support child protection efforts in communities like Tunyo. For instance, in the last Congress, the Senate version of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) contained an important new tool called the Child Protection Compact Act (CPCA), which would help eradicate child slave labor and commercial sexual exploitation of children in developing countries.

The CPCA would offer additional resources and law enforcement training, protection of survivors, and prosecution of traffickers. It would also help community members, like Edwin, strengthen the protection of children in their own community.

World Vision is advocating for the reintroduction of the reauthorization bill, and for a speedy passage. U.S. anti-trafficking efforts are essentially on hold until the bill is renewed.

Use your voice to protect children

Pray for children who are exploited or exposed to violence. Pray for the protection efforts of their communities, and help them live life in all its fullness. Pray that the U.S. Congress would act to protect children from exploitation and violence and support victims of human trafficking.

Call your members of Congress today and ask them to reintroduce and quickly pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. Help ensure that the United States remains a leader in the fight against exploitation and trafficking of men, women, and children.

Make a one-time donation to help girls and women in crisis. Your gift will go where it’s needed most, protecting girls and women by equipping skilled, local staff to offer training, education, counseling, small business loans, and other programs that reach women and girls as well as boys — helping to end cycles of abuse and unhealthy beliefs.