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How lack of child-friendly loos is causing parents distress

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A middle-aged woman stands along the corridor between the ladies’ and men’s washrooms on the first floor at Garden City Mall in Nairobi. On the surface, she looks like someone who is torn between using either the “ladies” or the “gents”.

Few seconds later, a boy of about five years staggers from the men’s washrooms. Zipping up his trousers and inspecting his hands, the lady asks him if he has washed his hands.

Stammering, the obviously mortified boy tells her that the sink was too high for him. The seemingly impatient woman drags the boy toward the ladies’ washrooms in spite of his resistance.

While this might strike one as a normal procedure, lack of washrooms designed specifically for children is a ordeal that parents and guardians routinely go through in malls and other public places in Kenya.

A spot check by Saturday Nation in Nairobi’s leading restaurants, malls including the The Hub, Prestige Plaza, Junction Mall, Thika Road Mall (TRM) and Garden City and other popular public amenities paints an unflattering picture — most of these facilities do not have restrooms for children.

A significant number of these do not provide potties while their toilet and urinal bowls are either too high or too wide for children’s use.

Those that have family washrooms fall short of providing maximum safety for them, with most lacking anti-skid surfaces, which exposes small children to fatal falls.

Java restaurant along Kimathi Street provides a surface for mothers to change their babies’ diapers in the ladies’ washroom. The men’s restroom, however, does not have a similar feature, should a nursing dad wish to change attend to his baby.

The rest of city restaurants and hotels have neither changing rooms for babies nor facilities that help young children to use the bathroom with ease.

The men’s urinal at TRM for instance, has urinal bowls for young boys. These feature steps on which young boys stand as they pass urine. But even so, these boys have to share the facility with older men.

At the nearby Garden City Mall, only men, women and people living with disabilities have designated restrooms. Children use the facility chosen by the accompanying parent, often to the child’s discomfort.

Unlike in Kenya, many states in the US have laws that require public facilities with more than six toilets to have at least one family restroom.

In many countries in the world, public facilities insist that children older than seven years must use gender-appropriate restrooms.

While a seven-year-old boy or girl may use a toilet unassisted, parents often fear for their children’s safety in the washrooms, owing to cases of defilement and even kidnapping.

Mercy Njeru, a human resource expert and a mother of two boys and one girl aged nine, six and two respectively, believes that separate washrooms for children in malls, restaurants, worship facilities and other public places is not an option but a necessity.

“My greatest fear as a mother is defilement and possible abduction of my children. We live in a country where scary stories of child molestation are rising by the day,” Njeru says. According to her, use of public washrooms, for instance, is a dreadful experience.

“As a parent, you are never sure of the levels of hygiene in the washroom, and as a mother, you cannot enter the “gents” to supervise your son. While waiting outside, you are also not sure if he is following the dos and don’ts of proper toilet use such as sanitising the toilet seat that you have discussed with him. This exposes your child to all manner of germs,” Njeru laments.

Njeru wonders why, for instance, the children’s changing room is the same for both boys and girls at most swimming pools.

“Sometimes I allow my boys to use the men’s changing room even as this makes me uncomfortable. I am always worried about who else might be in the facility and what their motives might be. Yet, as a woman, I cannot just storm the men’s facility to check before my sons go in. It gets very hairy when they take longer than expected,” she says.

She adds: “It’s embarrassing to stand out of the men’s facility and call out their names as they change or relieve themselves. But their safety comes first. I haven’t had a scare, but I am always uneasy whenever they are using washrooms with adults.”

Njeru says supervising her two-year-old daughter with the toilet is easier, as she goes with her to the “ladies”.

Susan Mbabazi, an office assistant in the city, has two nieces and a nephew, all aged below 10 years. On most weekends, she takes them out to play, to eat out and to have fun at the mall.

“My nephew is six years. Whenever I am out with them, the boy must strictly use the ladies’ bathroom. It is safer for him and even myself,” she says.

Susan adds that she cannot risk taking the boy to the men’s washroom “to sooth his ego”. She, however, notes that even ladies’ washrooms are not the best for minors either.

“There are careless women who will be walking naked in the bathroom without a care in the world. Others change their bras in front of the mirror in the glare of everyone in the room. Some iron their panties in the open. As an aunt, these are not spectacles you want a minor to see,” she regrets, adding that malls with gym facilities are notorious for such abandoned behaviour.

The worries of Pauline Wanjira, a mother of two sons aged six and one from Kasarani in Nairobi, are not any different. For Pauline, visiting the malls and other high-traffic public places is a nightmare, especially when they have to use the washroom or change diapers.

“I have had several awkward moments in malls when taking my children out. My son thinks he is old enough to mind himself. Whenever we are at the mall, he insists on using the ‘gents’ but I can’t allow him to use the men’s washrooms if his dad is not with us,” Pauline says, adding: “People are so evil these days and I can’t risk letting him off my sight for even a moment.”

“One time, I was forced to go back home to change my baby’s diapers because the mall did not have a facility for that. It was so frustrating,” she narrates.

“My elder son refuses to use the women’s bathroom. I am always able to make him use it, usually after an argument. But this leaves him embarrassed,” Pauline explains.

As a safety measure, Pauline ensures that her son has used the toilet before leaving home to avoid problems at the mall.

“I am now used to changing my baby’s diapers and suckling him in the car. But malls can do better to help mothers with young children,” she says.

Kindergarten teacher and mother of a teenage boy Nelly Osako says that even schools for small children should promote washrooms for the different sexes, noting that children need to understand the differences in their anatomy from early on.

source:nation.co.ke

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I’m not a Shylock: Jaguar disowns money lending app

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Starehe MP Charles Njagua, popularly known as Jaguar, has disowned a money lending app that is being marketed as a platform enjoying his sponsorship.

Jaguar has warned the public not to fall victim of the app dubbed ‘Jaguar loan app’.

The app allegedly gives needy Kenyans loans from Sh5, 000.

It bears an old photo of the MP sitting in a chair with a bundle of cash in his hands. The picture was taken from a scene of Jaguar’s  video of his hit song ‘Kioo’.

“Kenyans don’t get duped…..It would be so sad to lose your money to unscrupulous people,” wrote Jaguar on his social media pages.

Unlike other apps that send money directly to a client’s mobile phone, ‘Jaguar loan app’ asks for details of the client’s bank account details where the money will be allegedly deposited.

“Mobile Loans makes it easy for you to access loans from your phone anywhere, any time. Sign up in less than 5 minutes, fill your bank account details, apply for a loan you qualify and receive your money straight to whichever bank account you provide.

“It’s a fast, convenient and reliable way to access instant credit when you need it most. We help you get instant and easy personal or business loans to meet your goals. Everything is done right from the app,” reads the instructions on the app.

Jaguar joins the list of politicians including Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino whose names and photos have been used by conmen to solicit money from unsuspecting Kenyans.

“Nmeekelea thao tatu usiseme zimekunywa Maji,” said donjazzy254.

“Nilikua nataka kui download ila nilipo ona niya “4.6mb” app niliishuku,” wrote tomilli_tenymes.

“Anzisha uenye ni real sasa coz i see the person in the picture ni wewe mwesh,” commented kiptookip.

“Thanks for the information,” stated Jessica Muli.

source:nairobinews

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Kenyan government freezes travel for officers without digital passports

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The government has frozen foreign travel for civil servants without digital passports.

In a circular dated April 15 to government institutions, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua cited hitches in processing of visa and entry permits using the machine-readable ones, which are set to expire in September.

Although entry and exit requirements vary from country to country, Mr Kinyua said the general rule is that a passport should be valid for at least six months at the time of travel.

“Considering that the machine-readable passports will cease to be a valid travel document with effect from September 1, 2019, any machine-readable passport is already outside the 6 months validity period,” Mr Kinyua said in the circular which re-emphasised an earlier one he wrote on September 26, 2018.

“To avoid inconveniences that may be occasioned on account of the limited validity period of the machine-readable passports and in observance of the above-mentioned circular, travel clearance should not be issued to officers who do not hold the e-passport.”

The order means that public servants who had planned to travel in the next few weeks could be forced to reschedule or abandon their travel unless they can acquire the e-passports quickly.

The e-passports are designed to better protect national borders and identities of citizens. They have the latest security features and design techniques besides a new style polycarbonate bio-data page.

Kenya launched its e-passport programme in 2017, making it the first country in the East African Community (EAC) to do so.

This saw the country comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) global specifications and additional requirements set by EAC members.

E-passports have an embedded electronic chip in the passport booklet that stores the biographical information visible on page 2 of the document, as well as a digital security feature, according to ICAO.

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The digital security feature is a unique, country specific “digital signature” which can be verified using each nation’s respective certificate.

The government says the new passport is harder to duplicate and helps to counter threats from criminals such as terrorists and human traffickers.

The e-passport system was installed by British security printer De La Rue.

Mr Kinyua said that public servants are still making requests for visa facilitation using the machine-readable passports which are due to expire on August 31, 2019 in violation of the earlier circular.

“Please be advised that while passport requirements for entry and exit vary from country to country, the general rule is that a passport should have at least six (6) months validity when travelling internationally,” he said.

“Therefore, most countries will not issue a visa or permit a traveller to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after the final date of travel.”

He added that civil servants should make arrangements to apply for the new e-passports, noting that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not facilitate visa issuance for holders of the machine-readable passports.

Officials copied in the circular were asked to inform their staff of the passport rules. They include cabinet secretaries, county governors, principal secretaries, commissioners and holders of constitutional offices.

-nation.co.ke

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Police seek to detain city lawyer Assa Nyakundi longer over son’s death

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City lawyer Assa Nyakundi was on Thursday arraigned at the Makadara law courts to face accusations of shooting his son dead at his Muthaiga home.

Prosecution requested Chief Magistrate Nyaga to detain the suspect for one more day in order to interrogate him, take finger prints and to conduct a scene of crime reconstruction.

The defense did not oppose the application, but wanted reassurance that he will be arraigned on Friday.

The lawyer shot his son Joseph Nyakundi on March 17 near his Muthaiga home. Joseph was pronounced dead on arrival at the Aga Khan hospital.

Mr Nyakundi claimed to have fired the shot accidentally from inside the car. However, investigations suggest the shot was fired from outside the car.

Family of the late Joseph Nyakundi, son of top city lawyer Assa Nyakundi overcome with grief during his burial at the Langata Cemetery on April 02, 2019. Picture by Francis Nderitu

Source:nairobinews

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