Rescue teenagers from woes of pregnancies

Teen pregnancy

This year, at least 248 pregnant candidates will sit their national examinations in Narok County.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The consequences of teenage pregnancy can be fatal in regard to growth and association with other people.
  • Adolescents drop out of school, leading to a heavier dependency burden, high maternal deaths due to stress and depression, the spread of diseases and increased economic hardships. 
  • All state parties need to understand what child protection means and be sure to uphold and bring child rights to the top of the agenda for legislators and key stakeholders.

This year, at least 248 pregnant candidates will sit their national examinations in Narok County. In Kenya, teenage pregnancy rates stand up to 18 per cent. According to Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, Narok has the highest prevalence rate, at 40.4 per cent. 

Narok Sub-County has the most cases, with 149, followed by Narok Central with 140. This is mostly a result of retrogressive cultural practices such as child marriage. Lack of proper education means many parents and guardians have a conservative attitude about talking to their children about sex, which, in these communities, is taboo. 

Unsafe abortion

Nearly 384,000 adolescent girls aged 10-19 in the country become pregnant in less than a year. Such girls usually drop out of school to have a child or take the often fatal risk of unsafe abortion.

Inadequacy of youth-friendly services such as counselling on sexuality and rape prevention, and lack of adequate access to sexual and reproductive health information, including access to contraceptives such as condoms, have a huge impact on teenage pregnancy numbers. Due to poverty, many families prefer to give out their girls for marriage. 

In all these matters, girls suffer the consequences of violence, exploitation and abuse. Yet we have buried our heads in the sand and ignored the data and neglected the implementation of the existing policies.

The consequences of teenage pregnancy can be fatal in regard to growth and association with other people. Adolescents drop out of school, leading to a heavier dependency burden, high maternal deaths due to stress and depression, the spread of diseases such as HIV, STD, and STI and increased economic hardships as parents cater for their grandchildren. 

All state parties need to understand what child protection means and be sure to uphold and bring child rights to the top of the agenda for legislators and key stakeholders like parents and guardians.

Comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education in and out of school is key to ending teenage pregnancy. It should be done at about the age of six. We should have more community outreach programmes to educate young girls and boys about the danger of unprotected sex.

Comprehensive sex education should be emphasised and stronger links built between schools and the community. Law enforcement officers should take stern action against culprits in regard to child marriage. 

Section 15 of the Children Act, 2001 says a child shall be protected from sexual exploitation and use in prostitution or coercion and Article 53(1) (d) that every child has a right to be protected from abuse, neglect or any form of violence, inhuman treatment and punishment. 

The government and other key stakeholders must allow sex education and friendly sexual reproductive health services to be carried out among adolescents and youth. Let them commit to having no girl getting limited for lack of these.

Miss Nthiana ( [email protected] ) and Miss Kathia ( [email protected] ) are youth advocates at NAYA Kenya.

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