In the report dubbed Disrupting Harm in Kenya, and released on Wednesday, October 27, Interpol explained in great detail and provided comprehensive evidence of the risks minors face online, how they develop, how they interlink with other forms of violence and what we can do to prevent them.
According to the Interpol, Kenyan minors were exposed to online grooming, sharing of juvenile sensual abuse material and live-streaming of minor abuse. Interpol called for an urgent, multi-sectoral and global response to the matter.
Interpol found that between 5 and 13 per cent of minors who use the internet had reported experiencing online child sexual exploitation and abuse (OCSEA) in the past year.
However, Interpol believes the number might be higher as many minors do not disclose what they go through. Further, the data collected also revealed that less than 5 per cent of children who were subjected to OCSEA in the past year reported that they formally notified the police or used a national helpline.
The report also intimated that 7 per cent of minors had their intimate images shared with others without their consent, in the past year alone. This represented an estimated 350,000 minors in Kenya.
According to the research, 7 per cent of minors stated that they had been offered money or gifts in return for sexual images or videos of themselves in the past year. 4 per cent had been threatened or blackmailed online to engage in sensual activities in the past year.
“Threats and requests like these are made to both boys and girls, often via social media. In Kenya, there are almost no gender differences in children’s experience of OCSEA; boys and girls are both subjected to these crimes. Perpetrators are most often someone the child already knows,” Interpol stated.
Interpol called on the Kenyan government, lawmakers, parents and guardians to step up and strengthen the national prevention and response to this crime.
Notably, Interpol also called out the government for not treating some of these forms of OCSEA as criminal offences in Kenyan law.
But, Interpol also recognized efforts by the government to set up strong programmes to address OCSEA and support survivors. The Government was also hailed for planning to launch the new National Plan of Action on Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.
Interpol also asked the government to provide public financial support to the national children’s helpline Childline Kenya to ensure its sustainability and improve its ability to provide psychosocial support to children.
The government was also challenged to provide all children reporting sexual exploitation and abuse, and their caregivers, with quality services including a standard information package about their rights, including any right to compensation, and the procedures that will be followed.