Objective: Most research on child abuse in Tanzania and Kenya is unpublished in the international literature. The purpose of this paper is to examine the various commentaries and reports extant, toward an overview of the nature and frequency of child sexual abuse in Tanzania and Kenya.
Methods: Contacts were made with academics, government departments, NGOs, and UN agencies. This was followed by a field trip in the summer of 2001 where all available reports were examined and a wide range of interviews conducted.
Results: Little empirical data exist on child sexual abuse in Tanzania. It is widely perceived that it may be increasing as a result of AIDS sufferers' attempts to "cleanse" themselves. The breakdown of traditional childcare systems, foreign influences, poverty, and the lowly position of girls in society are also implicated. More research has been conducted in Kenya. It is clear that first coitus occurs at a young age for many Kenyan children and adolescents. Also, a degree of force, trickery, or material exchange is not uncommon in adolescent sexual relations.
Conclusions: Child sexual abuse is under-researched in Tanzania and Kenya. Studies by UN agencies such as United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have focused on the commercial sexual exploitation of children, to the neglect of more pervasive abuse in children's own communities by family, relatives, and neighbors. Nationwide surveys of the general population are required for an empirical understanding of this topic. Given the high incidence of AIDS/HIV in both countries, it is important to know if the epidemic is increasing the risk of rape or incest for children.