, 13 November, 2019 / 12:56 AM
At a recent interfaith meeting that brought together representative from various Christians denominations, Muslims and Hindus in Kenya under their umbrella body, the Inter- Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK), a common child safeguarding policy document was officially launched, with the leaders adopting a collective manual toward enhancing the safety and protection of children.
“People look at us as the voice of the voiceless, and therefore as religious leaders we need to act and speak out to communities,” IRCK chairman Fr. Joseph Mutie told ACI Africa Monday, November 11, in a telephone interview and added, “Therefore as servants of God, we came up with a document to guide us in safeguarding our children on issues related to child abuse.”
“Child abuse is currently a concern in the society,” Fr. Mutie said and added, “Children are being abused in offices, in the vehicles, in schools, at homes and (in) so many places.”
Underlining that religious leaders are guardians whom people turn to for refuge, Fr. Mutie who is also the General Secretary of Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) said, “We are custodians, we are people’s security where they can run to, it was therefore pertinent for us to have come up with a guide to help us.”
According to the IRCK child safeguarding policy document availed to ACI Africa, the religious body has outlined four principles to guide their operations.
The policy seeks to ensure the “best interest of the child in all the organization’s endeavors” and “zero tolerance to discrimination.”
The policy also seeks the promotion of “respect for child opinion in matters affecting him/her,” and “involvement of the child whenever necessary.”
The document further reads “no child or group of children must be treated any less favorably than others.”
The policy document the religious leaders adopted seeks “to ensure that IRCK has procedures to prevent and deal with child abuse and exploitation by the secretariat and all her management and oversight organs at the national and county level.”
Child safeguarding, according to IRCK policy, is “protecting children from maltreatment, preventing impairment of children’s health and development. It also ensures that with the provision of safe and effective care, children have the best outcomes.”
The child safeguarding policy document signed by the chairman and executive director of IRCK outlines that “The policy is binding to all IRCK officials, namely members of all the standing commissions, leaders of KWFN (Kenya Women of Faith Network) and KIYN (Kenya Interfaith Youth Network) as well as elected leaders of all County Interfaith Networks.”
IRCK is a “coalition of all major faith communities in Kenya that works together to deepen inter-faith dialogue and collaboration among members for a common endeavour to mobilize the unique moral and social resources of religious people and address shared concerns.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa