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Dreams Distinguished

THE RECENT increase in teenage pregnancies is not only alarming but shocking. From Bondo, Kilifi, and even currently in Muranga.  Approximately 13000 teens between the ages of age of 15-19 years have babies.  Tough questions must be asked, including what actions are taken particularly on adult predators. It’s now a common denominator that 1 in every 5 adolescent girls is pregnant or have given birth. This statistics is only for those who carried pregnancy to term. The figures are likely to be higher considering those who opt to terminate pregnancy, due to high stigma associated with teen pregnancies. In the worse scenario some of the girls lose their lives to unsafe abortion.

The Cost of Unsafe Abortions

Statistics indicate that seven women dies daily due to unsafe abortion. Those who survive unsafe abortion cost the already underfunded Ministry of Health and the country a whooping 0.5 billion. This is the cost of treating unsafe abortion complications. Many of these young girls find themselves in compromising and vulnerable situation. They have inadequate information and education on sexual reproductive health, that is worsen by conservative attitudes and traditional values.

The proliferation of mobile phones coupled by lack of guidance has  often exposed young people to misinformation. The prevailing social stigma and discrimination from health care providers often result in inaccessibility of services. The net effect has been unwanted pregnancies and dropping out of school killing dreams of many girls.

A majority of young girls from poor families suf
fer double predicament.  They not only become mothers at a tender age but also are forced to take care of their siblings.  The early marriages have exposed them to  Sexual and Gender Based Violence due to power imbalances. They are either lured by older men into sex in exchange for money or material goods. Many of them during their menstruation cannot afford to get sanitary towel and fall into sex for pads traps.

All are responsible

The solution to teenage pregnancies first lies squarely with parents. It is the responsibility  only parents to support their adolescent children through  continuous conversations on sex education. Secondly the communities in which this girls live must support school re-entry policy that  aimed at ensuring that young girls are able to go back to school soon after delivery. Finally, the government should promote the implementation of Human Sexuality Education in schools, by developing guidelines and in cooperating it in school curriculum. The government should immediately launch and roll out National School Health Policy that has been reviewed, this is a very critical policy framework for in-school children. The Ministry of Health should  integrate and link schools with health systems especially youth friendly facilities. Young persons  must join hands and stand firm against stigma and discrimination . These are the only ways that we will protect and keep our girls safe in school securing their future.

By Evelyn Odhiambo.

Edited by Benson Chakaya.