In a shocking revelation, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) has disclosed that, over the past 12 months, it recorded 5,589 rape survivors, of whom 52 were infected with HIV while 104 became pregnant.
In 2020, then Nairobi police boss Philip Ndolo revealed that 129 rape cases had been recorded in the capital between January and June, while last year Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said at least 5,000 rape cases had been recorded in the country since mid-March 2021, with many involving girls under the age of 18.
“We also identified 336 perpetrators. We have enrolled 2,974 on post-exposure prophylaxis, out of [whom] 1,488 completed their prescriptions,” said NMS director Dr Ouma Oluga, who also revealed that 155 of the rape survivors were disabled.
Speaking in Mathare yesterday on the triple threat facing teenagers (pregnancies, gender-based violence and HIV) during an event organised by the National Aids Control Council and other entities, County Woman Representative Esther Passaris asked religious leaders—more so the Catholic Church—to be more understanding and accommodative regarding abortion and contraceptives for teens.
“We are condemning women to poverty because of our current stand on abortion and the fact that young girls are being denied contraceptives by the Health ministry,” Ms Passaris said.
“No one should stand in the way of the lives and well-being of hundreds of thousands of women because of personal religious beliefs,” she added. Kenya faces a “teenage pregnancy crisis”, with 45,700 girls reported to be pregnant in a two-month period, Ms Stephanie Musho, a human rights lawyer and sexual and reproductive health expert, told the Nation.
“If you break that down, it averages to 700 teenage pregnancies per day. Additionally, 98 adolescent girls were reported to contract HIV every week,”she said .
“Also, HIV-positive women continue to be stripped of their dignity and face abuse in the form of forced sterilisation, which is seen as an unscientific and regressive method of reducing HIV infection despite there being no scientific evidence to support these assaults. Worse still is that seven women die every day from complications arising from unsafe abortion. The legal and policy gaps continue to exacerbate the status quo.”
But Ms Musho thinks there is renewed hope at the regional level by virtue of the East Africa Community (EAC) Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill, 2021.
“If passed, all EAC partner states will be required to integrate sexual and reproductive health in their efforts towards universal health coverage. Additionally, countries will be required to harmonise their national health policies and regulations, more so, on sexual and reproductive health rights,” she said.
Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, however, maintained that abortion does not reflect the cultural and religious beliefs of a majority of Kenyans.
“Our policy, which was launched today, reflects on what the majority want, while Ms Passaris is speaking for the minority,” she told the Nation. “People under 18 are children and their parents must be consulted on decisions that affect them.”
“How can the state give girls contraceptives when they are still in the custody of their parents?”
“The position still remains that we do not give contraceptives to children.”