To mitigate the situation, the KHRC held a three day teachers training workshop in Taveta on children’s rights in November 2010. During the workshop the teachers were trained on children rights one of them being the right to education as provided for in the children’s act and the convention on the rights of the child among other provisions.
Child abuse issues (both physical and psychological) were discussed and the participants came up with ways for the teachers to identify this abuse. The continual belief in demon-possession and the type of violent exorcism carried out on the children without addressing the root cause of the phenomenon that leaves children exhausted was identified as a type of child abuse.
In the process the extent of the damage done was unearthed by the journalists that accompanied the KHRC and the Taita Taveta HURINET team.
One of the interventions used to foster child protection in the area is the formation of the Queens of Change Clubs in schools. Through the Queens of Change Clubs, (proactive societies in 5 schools in Taveta: Timbila; Rekeke; Mahoo; Njoro and Kimala) the Taita Taveta HURINET has made headway in protecting children from Child Abuse, sexual abuse and child neglect.
The Queens of Change Clubs were set up in 2008 as recognition that child abuse was rampant in Taveta. The KHRC-community partnerships aimed at addressing the rampant problem of child abuse in Taveta District. It was thought, at the time, that for a more wholesome regime of child protection, children in schools would need to be enlisted as part of the campaign to stop child abuse.
The network mentors the Queens of Change Clubs in order to generate the spirit if child protection in schools. In liaison with KHRC other partners, the network has provided speaking boxes, counseling services and legal education on child protection. In turn, the Queens of Change Clubs, previously under a pilot phase, have registered remarkable gains in the realms of Child Protection. The children write notes and put them in the speaking boxes which are opened by the Taveta HURINET after every two months. The boxes have served as a source of vital information and also helped in identifying cases of defilement in schools and in one instance they helped identify a teacher who was defiling children and the teacher even got prosecuted in court. The boxes operate like a secret ballot boxes where the children write their views which are anonymous to provide protection to the children and to make them feel safe to express themselves and speak on what is going on with them.
PIC TAITA TAVETA 9: The opening up of a Queens of Change speaking box in Madarsani primary school, Taita Taveta, a measure to report violation of children’s rights. In one of the schools children narrated to the team of KHRC staff, Taveta Hurinet and journalists alleged incidences of children being possessed by demons. The school alleged that a pastor had prayed for the children and thereafter strange occurrences started taking place. The children would all fall in a trance and see images of a woman who would force them to work in her farm for many hours. Later the woman would carry them to the ocean and force them to eat human flesh.