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Friday
Oct082010

1,000 Kenyan Teachers Fired for Sexually Abusing Young Girls

Photo Courtesy - TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- More than 1,000 Kenyan teachers have been fired for sexually abusing girls over the last two years, according to a new report from the country’s government.

Last year, 600 teachers were dismissed over allegations of sexual abuse, and 500 more have been let go this year. The allegations range from inappropriate kissing and touching to impregnating girls as young as 12.

The extent of sexual abuse in Kenya came to light after the government set up a hotline for the victims.

"Initially, we were not able to know what was happening in the country because of the poor communication, but now communication is everywhere. There's mobile [phones] across the country," Ahmed Hussein, the director of children's services at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development, told the BBC.

Hussein said that some of the teachers had already been arrested and prosecuted. Many, however, were simply fired and sent home.

Technically, it is against Kenyan law for an adult to have sex with a minor under the age of 18, but the law is hard to enforce, particularly in rural areas. The victim's family has to press charges and become heavily involved in the investigation, so most accused sexual abusers escape prosecution.

In the case of teachers, the accused and school officials often pay off the girl's family, who is often poor, to keep the family from prosecuting.

The fact that the Kenyan government is acknowledging the problem is considered progress. Kenya is one of only 14 countries to have a hotline encouraging victims to report abuse. While more countries in Africa are acknowledging it, sexual abuse isn't widely talked about, let alone reported.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio