Lobby group saving girls from sex predators

Lobby group saving girls from sex predators

What you need to know:

  • Most teenage girls in Laikipia County have been lured into premature sex in exchange for sanitary towels.
  • By June this year, 678 girls were reported to have been attending antenatal clinic in various health facilities in Laikipia North Sub-county.
  • A local lobby group has intervened and is offering mentorship, providing hygiene kits  to 300 girls.
  • When girls lack of these essentials, they are rendered vulnerable and easily lured to unprotected sex.

Majority of teenage girls in Laikipia County have been lured into premature sex in exchange for sanitary towels. Data from local health facilities indicate an increase in teenage pregnancies and a rise in sexually transmitted infections (STI) among teenagers, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

By June this year, 678 girls were reported to have been attending antenatal clinic in various health facilities in Laikipia North Sub-county.

Susan Wanjiru and Caroline Mathenge, both aged 19 years, from Likii and Majengo estates respectively, attest that many of their friends have traded sex for the essential commodity, only for them to realise they are pregnant.

Contracted STIs

"I have four friends who are pregnant after men in the neighbourhood lied to them. They couldn’t afford sanitary towels, forcing them to sleep with men to get money and buy the items. Some have contracted STIs,” says Ms Wanjiru..

Ms Mathenge says her parents lost their jobs, causing financial constrain on them.

"Our parents have been buying us sanitary towels, but since they lost their jobs, things have been hard for us," she says.

The situation has driven a local lobby group to intervene and offer mentorship and provide hygiene kits to 300 girls.

Rise Her Initiative chairperson Ann Mwende says they target vulnerable teenage girls who are most vulnerable to sex predators. Their concern is the rising number of teen pregnancies.

Rendered vulnerable

“When young girls lack of these essentials due to poverty, they are rendered vulnerable and easily lured to unprotected sex," Ms Mwende said after providing the kits to 60 vulnerable girls at Majengo estate last week.

"Some of the guardians of these girls lost their jobs due to Covid-19 pandemic and are unable to cater for such basic essentials for their daughters. We deemed it right to impact the society by empowering young girls through monthly provision of hygiene kits," she adds.

The organisation aims at offering menstrual hygiene programme to more than 10,000 girls and availing hygiene kits to more than 1,000 girls in the county in the next three years.

Patron Paul Mwaniki said: "We have been training the girls to be responsible in the society and desist from being manipulated by men. We encourage them to pass the knowledge to their colleagues at the homestead level."

Laikipia has experienced a steady increase of cases of HIV and STIs in three consecutive years, the recently released Laikipia County Statistical Abstract 2020 report shows.

HIV patients

The data, which was extracted from the county department of health, shows that STIs rose from 3,581 in 2017, 4,434 in 2018 to 5,037 in 2019. Laikipia West Constituency has been on the forefront with a record of 1,846, 2,103 and 3,224 in the respective years.

The outpatient morbidity for patients aged five years and above shows that the newly diagnosed HIV patients rose from 146 in 2017, 193 in 2018 to 216 in 2019.

Laikipia West Constituency led with 85, 105 and 138 new patients respectively, in the consecutive years. This was coupled by a decline in the number of men using condoms as contraceptives, as stipulated in the report.

The report further shows that the number of 'clients receiving male condoms' stood at 5,273 last year compared to 5,647 in 2018.

Compared with other constituencies, Laikipia North recorded a decrease of usage of the contraceptive from 2,299 males in 2018 to 1,829 in 2019.​​


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