Kenya: Kewopa Campaigns to Curb Teen Pregnancies

Women MPs to collaborate on justice delivery to victims, amend laws to facilitate the same

Women legislators have embarked on a campaign aimed at curbing the rise of teenage pregnancies in the country.

Last week, Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa) members met Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha.

Chairperson Gathoni Wamuchomba said a consensus was arrived at to bring together the Education, Health, Interior and ICT committees to plan the way forward in a bid to tame the menace.

The Kiambu County Woman Representative added that they also held a consultative meeting with the National Crime and Research Centre on teenage pregnancy, sexual violence and defilement.

"We agreed to form collaboration on justice delivery to the victims as well as amend laws to facilitate justice," said Wamuchomba.

Murang'a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, last month, announced measures she planned to implement to curb teenage pregnancies in her county.

COVID-19

She spoke even as reported cases of teenage pregnancies during the Covid-19 period continue to surge.

The MP said she is seeking partners to establish a rescue centre for expectant girls forced into early marriages.

"We are also engaging Fida-Kenya to assist those with cases in court without legal representation so that they can get justice," she said.

Cases of teenage pregnancy have risen sharply since mid-March when the government ordered all schools to be shut to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Notably, the teenage pregnancy menace in the country has not started with the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to a recent report by United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), 378,397 teenage pregnancies were recorded between July 2016 and June 2017 and 28,932 of these pregnancies occurred among girls aged 10-14.

Overall, one in five girls begins having children before their 19th birthday in Kenya according to data from the Ministry of Health.

The report, for example, indicates that one in ten girls has begun child bearing in Elgeyo Marakwet, Murang'a, Nyeri and Nyandarua counties while four in ten girls have begun child bearing in Narok and Homa Bay counties.

ABORTION COMPLICATIONS

These statistics, UNFPA says, are alarming given that only two per cent of teenage mothers return to school.

Another research conducted by Plan International last year across nine counties in Kenya also found that unintended or unwanted teenage pregnancy was a huge issue for girls, significantly impacting their lives.

The research found that 98 per cent of pregnant girls were not in school, and 59 per cent of the pregnancies among girls aged 15-19 years were unintended.

"About 45 per cent of severe abortion complications were also reported among adolescent girls. Sexual violence is believed to affect about one-third of girls and one-sixth of boys under 18, but most do not discuss their experiences or receive assistance," the report says in part.

Prof Magoha had, in a separate forum, assured Kenyans that the government will not rest until girls who have been impregnated get justice.

President Uhuru Kenyatta waded in to the matter last week.

While reacting to the rising cases of teenage pregnancies, the President directed the National Crime Research Centre to probe the increasing number of cases of gender-based violence and teenage pregnancies that have rocked the nation.

He decried the worrying number of teenage pregnancies and violations of children's rights that have been reported.

The Head of State appealed to social institutions such as churches to be vigilant and help put an end to these unfortunate incidents.

The President ordered the National Crime Research Centre to prepare an advisory for security agencies on action that can be taken in the prosecution of perpetrators within 30 days.

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