Connect with us

General

Malaysian teen takes own life after Instagram poll

Published

on

Loading...

By AFP
More by this Author

A Malaysian teenager who posted an Instagram poll asking if she should live or die took her own life after a majority of respondents voted for the latter, sparking calls for an investigation.

The unidentified 16-year-old from Kuching in eastern Sarawak state died after posting the poll Monday on the Facebook-owned picture-sharing platform.

Police have classified the case as “sudden death”.

“Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L,” she wrote, according to a report on the news portal Astro Awani, with the letters “D” and “L” apparently referring to “die” or “live”, respectively.

Sixty-nine percent of votes cast were in favour of her ending her life, with just 31 percent against, local media quoted police as saying.

Lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh called for a probe into the circumstances of her death.

“Would the girl still be alive today if the majority of netizens on her Instagram account discouraged her from taking her own life?” he asked.

“I urge the authorities… to investigate the social media accounts of the victim and the circumstances that led to her death to prevent further abuse of social media in similar circumstances in the future.”

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq tweeted that he was “genuinely worried” about the state of mental health of young people in Malaysia.

“It’s a national issue which must be taken seriously. A national discussion must take place,” he said.

Loading...

Ching Yee Wong, head of communications for Instagram APAC, said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with this young woman’s family.

“We have a deep responsibility to make sure people using Instagram feel safe and supported. As part of our own efforts, we urge everyone to use our reporting tools and to contact emergency services if they see any behaviour that puts people’s safety at risk.”

Instagram announced a clampdown on images of self-harm in February after a British teen who went online to read about suicide took her own life.

The death of 14-year-old Molly Russell sparked a debate in Britain about regulating children’s social media use.

Her parents did not directly blame Instagram for the loss of their daughter but they cited the easy access to disturbing content as a contributing factor, and urged the network to respond.

Instagram has never allowed posts that promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.

But as part of the clampdown, it removed references to non-graphic content related to people hurting themselves from its searches and recommendation features.

It also banned hashtags relating to self-harm.

The measures are meant to make such images more difficult to find for depressed teens who might have suicidal tendencies.

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

Kenyans urged to ask status of road networks countrywide

Published

on

Loading...
He says this will help Kenyans know the status of their roads and recognize government commitment to expanding the road network in the country. 

State House Chief of Staff and Head of Kenya’s Presidential Delivery Unit Nzioka Waita is urging Kenyans to ask any questions regarding road construction across the country, including their status of completion.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

On his twitter handle under the hashtag #ReimaginingKenya #RoadsKE, Waita said he had mobilized all the National Government Road Agencies to field questions from Kenyans regarding road networks in the country as well as discuss the construction of new roads across Kenya.

” @NziokaWaita Today I’m joined by the National Government Road Agencies as we discuss construction of new rural, urban & major trunk roads across Kenya , don’t be shy to ask questions about their status of completion.”

 

 

He also asked Kenyans to describe the journey to your rural home, by naming any roads that are either new, under construction or recently rehabilitated.

Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153

He says this will help Kenyans know the status of their roads and recognize government commitment to expanding the road network in the country.

” Even the most ardent critics of this administration acknowledge however begrudgingly the fact that there are roads under construction in every region of our country. The debate on my TL is evidence of this.” He said.

During his Madaraka Day address on Monday President Uhuru Kenyatta laid out his legacy, saying since taking over from Mwai Kibaki, his government has built an average of 1000 kilometres of road every year.

The number, he added was 44 times more than what the colonial administration built and 4 times more than what Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Moi and Mwai Kibaki did in 50 years.

Here were some of the reactions from twitter.

@DanMKazungu For my mothers in Jilore, Kakoneni, Langobaya and Chakama, villages along the Malindi-Salagate road, it takes roughly 30 minutes to take their agricultural produce to market in Malindi.

@aketchdenis7 Masara-Sori road is poorly done.Kisii-Rongo-Migori is done in a snail’s pace. What’s the status e Masara-Muhuru road? Good work from NG. It’s my hope that Osani-Nyakore road will be done soon.

Loading...

@gordorockguru Ahero Junction – Katito (work in progress) / Katito – Kendubay (Nyweeeeeee)

@skmakii  Several new roads in Murang’a, thank you very much. Main Murang’a – Kiria-ini works seem to have been abandoned

@EdPhilOmo 1. Oyugis -Kendu Bay Road. This one is particularly personal a promise from 1992, it’s a reality. Thank you 2. Kisii-Oyugis-Sondu Onwards Proud!

@abuamir2004  When will Modogashe -Wajir – Mandera road construction going to begin? These counties have never seen an inch of tarmac since independence. It will be the biggest gift from H.E #UhuruKenyatta
KBC-You-tube-728x90-New-2

Tell Us What You Think


Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

Human trafficking and Child exploitation on the increase during COVID-19 » Capital News

Published

on

Loading...

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – The Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit (AHTCPU) has raised a red flag over the alarming and sudden spike in online human trafficking, recruitment and exploitation of children in Kenya, with concerns that the trend will continue for as long as children are at home and online.

Head of the unit, Mueni Mutisya is worried that despite the dusk to dawn curfew and cessation of movement, intelligence reports reveal that human traffickers are capitalizing on the online platform to recruit, groom and exploit children and lure adults feeling the pinch of the emaciated economy as a result of COVID-19.

Last week, a German Thomas Sheller was charged with seven counts for sodomising four teenagers aged between 10 and 13 years in Kisumu and Nairobi.

Local and international organizations attribute the surge in online exploitation of children to the interruption of their physical learning and a change in their daily lives due to confinement affecting many parts of the world.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Regional Advisor Rachel Harvey estimates that a third of internet users are children (below 18 years) with internet usage increasing by half (50%) following the stay-home orders adopted by most countries to help suppress the spread of COVID-19. 

Whereas the increase is positive for continuity of education and social life, Harvey is warning that it has put children at risk of online sexual exploitation.

“Before COVID-19, it was estimated that there were 750,000 people looking to connect with children for sexual purposes online at any one time. Opportunity and triggers for offending created by containment are likely to have pushed up that number, as well as demand for child sexual abuse materials,” Harvey cautions. 

With limited physical interaction, global trends further single out increased and growing demand for child abuse material. This has given traffickers opportunities to devise new venues of animating the ‘lucrative’ business of sex tourism by leveraging on the online space to prey on susceptible and unwitting users.  

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Internet Crimes against Children Investigator, Detective Lawrence Okoth confirms the nerve-racking trend in Kenya, with the unit based in Nairobi receiving about 300 cases – per day – containing child abuse material and messages meant to lure and recruit victims, “the numbers are quite high and many more actually are not being reported.”

The traffickers are tactical in their approach hence the big and growing number of victims.

According to Okoth, traffickers stalk their victims.

First they identify their vulnerabilities and then offer a shoulder to lean on and camouflaging as ‘good friends’ with ‘common interests’ such that sharing of nudes becomes easy. 

Inadvertently, victims find themselves entangled in a compromising and perilous situation.

“Traffickers build confidence with their victims online by sharing conversations that lead to connection and consequently detach their victims from their parents/guardians. This close connection paves way for physical connection offline,” Okoth explains.

With the newly found ‘friendship’ as a stepping stone to  invade into the victim’s life, traffickers manipulate their victims and whenever their missions are not accomplished, the shared nudes and erotic videos become weapons of blackmail used to force them to comply with any sort of demands which also include abuse of substance.

“In most cases, the traffickers order the victim to recruit other students or their friends and with time, the chain grows and the number of victims multiplies,” Okoth elucidates. 

It has further been discovered that traffickers employ other tactics of observing current trends and creating links with names that children identify and relate with indubitably, “we have come across groups such as Class Eight Revision, KCPE 2020 Class and other names that children easily join without questioning their genuineness.”  

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The bigger concern, Okoth observes, is that children and youth are being recruited and exposed online without the knowledge of their custodians.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Special Representative Valiant Richey, describes ‘the scale as unimaginable and growing’ with, “traffickers recruiting children through many online venues, including social media, game platforms, and chat rooms. They will typically befriend the children, grooming them for sexual activity and then gradually exploit them in various ways.”

Loading...

A case in point is a 71-year-old German arrested in Nairobi on May 4, 2020 in the company of a 13 year-old boy alleged to have been trafficked from Nyalenda in Kisumu to Nairobi. According to police and doctor’s reports, the boy – one of his victims- was defiled between April 30th and May 4th. It required combined efforts and intelligence of Interpol and DCI to nab the alleged trafficker classified as a serial offender. Thomas Scheller who is in the country illegally faces six counts of trafficking in persons, child pornography and defilement of five boys aged between 10 and 13. He was said to have traveled from Kwale in the Kenyan Coast, to Kisumu and Nairobi counties between February and April 4, 2020 to commit the crimes. The accused was able to lure his victims online before meeting and giving them smart phones he used for communication and sending pornographic material. Scheller violated cessation regulations that prohibit movement to and from the Nairobi Metropolis area to traverse three counties to meet, transport and exploit his victims.  It took the combined efforts and intelligence of the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and the AHTCPU to track him and his suspicious online activities.

Due to some of the mitigation measures and restrictions put in place, for example, to block child abuse material, perpetrators in their innovative and complex way of concealing their activities  have resulted to live streaming of repugnant and explicit videos of children to woo and entertain their clients.

In Kenya, detectives have identified different locations in Kibera Slum in Nairobi and   Mombasa where traffickers congregate relatives (mostly children) in sneaky rooms and entice them into sex orgies for purposes of live streaming. 

Terming the situation as a ‘crisis’, Counter Trafficking in Persons Lead at the AHTCPU, Detective David Gitau, voices concerns and difficulties in arresting the perpetrators who disappear as soon as they are done with the live stream that takes about ten to 15 minutes.

“They dismantle and take off by the time we (detectives) get to the area. In most cases, there are no traces left because they take off with their victims who are prepared in advance by the well organized groups,” Gitau explains.

In other instances, the traffickers transmit recorded sex orgies to market their victims whom they later physically link with their clients locally despite the current restrictions in movement. 

“Traffickers would likely film or stream sexual abuse online in exchange for money. In other circumstances, traffickers might advertise sex with the children and then arrange for meetings with clients,” Richey elucidates.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

With a growing number of victims and with skeleton workforce due to social distancing orders and limited movement, Gitau is concerned that rescue efforts have been affected.

“Like now when we rescue victims, where do we take them? We work with partner organizations to provide shelter for the victims and now most of them have no space to take them in. We are forced to house them in our government facilities which are ill prepared for such big numbers.”

According to Harvey, interruption of child protection services is a global challenge that has reduced opportunity for children to access help and requires urgent intervention.

Post coronavirus projections point at a surge in human trafficking with the economic meltdown attributed to COVID-19, increasing vulnerability of more victims who will be seeking to escape poverty and joblessness.

 “We have a huge pool of vulnerable people ready and willing to be trafficked and with severe migration rules expected in future, unethical groups are working to pounce on vulnerable children,” Gitau warns.

With an ease in movement, the detective is further warning that the already recruited victims have been prepared for trafficking within and outside the country to meet their exploiters.

“Trafficking is going to be a boom. The online platform is the preparatory phase to recruit and keep would-be victims. Recruitment is happening online and will eventually lead to exploitation and movement within and outside the country.”

Harvey is urging anti trafficking and children protection stakeholders to respond proactively to the current crisis but also prepare for the long-term impact since the end of containment does not translate to automatic end of trafficking and exploitation of victims, “not all risks to children online will turn into harms – steps can be taken by a range of stakeholders to mitigate risk.”

In the current circumstances of lockdown and with more children online, the AHTCPU in Nairobi is advising parents to monitor their activities and report any suspicious intruders as they are likely to be preying on their next victims.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Judie Kaberia is a fellow of the 2020 Resilience Fund of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

General

Kenya: What Kenya Must Look Out for Before Easing COVID-19 Restrictions

Published

on

Loading...

Kenya’s initial response to COVID-19 was highly praised as effective in suppressing the spread of infections. There is cautious optimism as the country prepares for reopening of schools and economy due to a daily spike in cases and fatalities.

The implementation of public health measures included social distancing and hygiene practices. And a number of non-pharmaceutical interventions were implemented early on. These included the closure of educational institutions and restaurants, the restriction of transport movements, border controls, suspension of international flights, night curfews, intermittent lockdowns and use of face masks in public.

Combined these interventions had a substantial impact in limiting the community transmission of COVID-19. They reduced the potential of human to human transmission since the intensity of interaction reduced overall infections.

The overall impact of curbing the spread of infections has been the key goal. But there is still a need to include economic safety nets to cushion the poor and vulnerable populations while providing security.

And the country has to carefully consider its next steps. There are number of preconditions that need to be met before it should start easing the current restrictions.

Steps to be taken before lifting restrictions

Firstly, there is need for evidence that the virus is being suppressed. This will show that there’s been a plateauing of the epidemic curve. A two week steady decline in the number of newly detected cases would be indicative of limited community transmission.

This downward trajectory – or near zero incidence of documented COVID-19 cases – would need to be accompanied by a decrease in patient visiting hospitals with influenza like illnesses.

Secondly, the government must ensure that there’s robust public health capacity system in place. This would include the ability to detect, test, track, isolate and quarantine cases and quickly contain the epidemic. There are efforts to recruit 5000 additional health care workers to support in response to the epidemic. Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) shortages for healthcare workers should be addressed.

The health system capacity should be able to contain the virus and treat all new cases with the human and technological capacity to mitigate increased transmission. There are notable efforts in investing in the state of the art diagnostic laboratories. These have high throughput potential for detection of high impact pathogens and can rapidly respond to public health emergencies of international concern.

Thirdly, to reopen or restart the economy is a long-term process. It needs to be done sequentially. A multisectoral and consultative forward-looking approach needs to be adopted. The main aim must be to protect citizens’ health, as well as mitigage the worst effects on the economy.

Fourthly, Kenya must remember that there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach that countries can copy. The country should keenly watch and learn from countries that have started lifting social distancing restrictions. And be ready to reimpose restrictions if, as happened in South Korea and France, a second wave of cases were reported.

Fifthly, the government must consider the fact that people are becoming more anxious. This suggests that reopening should not be hurried and should not be done in a prescriptive way. Room must be left for flexibility.

Loading...

Sixth, steps need to be taken so that workplaces can make the various readjustments to maintain high hygiene standards. And the use of facemasks and sanitisers should be sustained in some places that are high risk.

Lastly, a robust targeted testing regime that will employ a mobile app based surveillance for reliable contact tracing should be rolled out nationally.

School closures have been effective in enhancing community-level social distancing and reducing the peak incidence of infections. In turn this has lessened the pressure on health services. Going forward, a staggered reopening of educational institutions is highly recommended where the arrival and drop-off times or locations of pooled bus transport should be monitored to limit direct contact with parents and employees.

The role of science