Tana River village with depressed teen mums

A teenage mother with her baby. Cases of depressed teen mothers has been on the rise in the Majengo area of Tana River County.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The vice is causing concerns in the village, as the minors end up abandoned by perpetrators, and neither do they get justice.
  • Some parents cash in on the offences, allowing perpetrators to go scot-free.

In a year, Majengo and Fanjua primary schools in the Majengo area of Tana River County lose about 15 girls to defilement. Many others are depressed.

Some leave behind children, with their poor parents having the burden of raising grandchildren.

The vice is causing concerns in the village, as the minors end up abandoned by perpetrators, and neither do they get justice. Some parents cash in on the offences, allowing perpetrators to go scot-free.

Mwanadiye Khamis*, a 17-year-old teen mother, will sit her KCPE exam this year but is apprehensive about her performance as she tries to balance motherhood and schooling.

"Sometimes I feel like quitting because I have to sneak from school to go and breastfeed my baby, and after school, I have to find some small jobs to get her the basic needs since my stepmother cannot do that for me," she says.

Since she was defiled, she has known no peace and finds it difficult to concentrate in class. Her performance has dipped. Mwanadiye has to provide for her baby on weekends. More depressing is the justice course; she has to appear in court on weekdays when required.

"I have to face the same man who took advantage of me in court. Worse still is seeing him walk free after he was released on bond. It is depressing and feels like I’m being mocked."

At school, other pupils and teachers now treat her as an adult.

In the village, some married men make sexually suggestive advances to her and try to woo her into marriage. “It is a chaotic atmosphere for me. My mates do not want to associate with me, and their parents have warned them to keep their distance as they think I’m a bad influence. They think I got into this willingly."


Her guardian laments the burden of raising the baby as she has her young children. She has struggled to raise her since her father abandoned them a few years ago. She hoped she would grow to support herself and the family.

"There is nothing so disheartening than this. I usually look at Mwanadiye as she struggles to breastfeed, and when she has to stay awake all night soothing a crying baby to sleep, only for her to struggle to wake up in the morning to prepare for school," the guardian says.

Mwanadiye has been like her firstborn. She adores her despite her shortcomings and is concerned about what she has to go through daily.

Scornful remarks have not left her unscathed either, as villagers accuse her of 'selling' the girl to men for an income.

"Were not for her good heart and the respect and love she has for me, I would have parted ways with this girl. It is not easy; we love each other like mother and daughter. That is why I choose to fight by her side. I know she can't handle this alone," she says.

Binti Hussein*, 16, on the other hand, dropped out of school two years ago to raise her baby. After Binti was defiled, her stepfather cut a deal with the perpetrators and later found her biological father, who had since abandoned them. Justice was choked.

She works on farms to provide for her baby. Her mother notes that she has no faith in the justice system, as the structure from the grassroots is ever compromised to stifle justice.

"The one with financial muscles will always win such cases. The police will intimidate you, especially when a public servant or a police officer is a perpetrator. That issue will never go beyond Majengo village," the mother says.

As a result, she resolved to be Binti’s counsellor after she lost hope and suffered mental breakdowns twice.

According to a report by Tana Civil Organisation Forum, teen pregnancy and early marriage have surged in the last two years, most of which go unreported.

The report notes that more than 25 girls drop out of the two primary schools yearly because of pregnancy, and at least 10 others drop out of secondary schools.

"The predators target primary schoolchildren, whom they lure using money and other goodies. Once they make them pregnant, they run away or cut deals with the police," said Omar Boma, a gender activist.

Mr Boma notes that some cases involve civil servants, police officers, and even local administrators, who frame some innocent youths.

"Some youths ran away after they were framed with cases committed by a chief. Some of them are back, and we look forward to pursuing justice for them," he says.

However, he appeals for more support from gender-based organisations to provide counselling services to survivors and help them return to school. He says such support would also help build a self-aware and vigilant society.

County Police Commander Richard Ngetich says they are following up on reported cases where arrests have yet to be made.

"Three people have since been arrested from that area and taken to court, including an assistant chief, and we shall arrest more. We are on high alert," he says.

He also appeals to the residents to forward OB numbers to cases yet to be resolved for action. 

*Names changed to protect identities.