The Railway Children charity is urging the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments to tackle violence against street children in Africa.
A new study, Struggling to Survive, by the Railway Children says a silent war is being waged in Tanzania and Kenya against children forced on to the streets. The children who took part in the study have been exposed to a relentless ordeal of extreme physical and sexual violence.
Says Pete Kent, East Africa Country Director for Railway Children, ‘Children end up on the streets as a last resort, often forced to leave home due to family conflict. The cycle of violence then follows them on to the streets and is aggravated by a general acceptance of abusive behaviour towards street children.
‘The children themselves are viewed as the ‘problem’ rather than the communities that have failed them. Children are routinely treated as criminals and put in prison cells with adults where sexual abuse is rife. And the absence of adequate child protection measures explains why one in three girls in Tanzania who have sex for the first time are forced.’
The Railway Children wants to see the launch of a coordinated plan to tackle the violence against street children by the Tanzanian and Kenyan government. Urgent action is also required to help the most traumatised children, who without better support will remain trapped in poverty on the streets and continue to be exploited as they battle for survival.