We need to deal with teen pregnancies more seriously
As a journalist and community actor stirred-up by a passion for the rights of girls and women, my work revolves around gathering and zeroing in on the facts and putting the real faces behind the sky- rocketing cross-cutting statistics churned out every day by private and government agencies.
My major concern today, is the heartbreaking data on teenage pregnancies across the country.
The whole of last week, the media was drenched in scientific evidence of the number of girls now preparing to be mothers.
Government agencies have been falling over each other as they raise their voices condemning the unbelievable number of teenagers put on the family way between March last year and December.
The country is dazed by the fact that, more than 40 thousand girls between the ages of 10 and 19, are either pregnant or nursing their babies.
To set the facts straight, it will unfair to say that this is the only time Kenya is experiencing teenage pregnancies.
In 2014, a study on teenage pregnancy showed that, 15 percent of school girls were already mothers while another five percent, were pregnant.
In the undulating hills of Rift Vally, 5,000 girls are missing as thousands reported to school on January 4.
Chiefs and their assistants have been given the herculean task of tracing the children and ensuring they are back in class.
It takes two to tangle. The big question is: where are the men who defiled these girls? Are they aliens? No! They are men with physical and postal addresses.
Any man who has a canal knowledge of a girl below 18 should be dragged to court to face defilement charges. There is never two- way about it.
The law enforcement ecosystem has become the Achilles heel of the spiking cases of teenage pregnancies.
Why do we have laws that are not enforced to the letter? Some parents are complicit because they rather be paid compensation for their defiled daughters than seek justice for them.
From these grim statistics, it is no secret Kenya harbours millions of paedophiles walking the streets and yet they should be cooling their heels in prison.
But this does not in any way imply that men are the only ones responsible for this debacle.
Boys are squarely in the middle of all this although their responsibility pales in comparison to the men.
In some cases, the boys responsible for the bulging midriffs, are younger than the girls.
This is serious and it is upon parents to ensure their children are on the straight and narrow.
It is clear sex education which was introduced in 2013 has not been taught in our schools to raise awareness among teenagers on the dangers of engaging in sex.
Sex education should be pulled out of the backburners and thrust into the front of lessons that urgently need to be put on the timetable.
The government and development partners have not been helpful in funding agencies responsible for sexual reproductive health targeting adolescents.
These gaps have allowed the festering of teenage pregnancies. We can’t sit back and blame Covid-19 for the present quagmire.
Parents have left the care and discipline of their children to teachers for a long time.
During the nine-month break, teachers were nowhere to be seen and parents, clueless on what to do with their children, left them to their own devices.
How will this Decade of Action in the UN Agenda be realized if thousands of girls miss school?
Are we not staring at a bleak 2030 as far as the Sustainable Development Goals are concerned. — The writer is a media consultant — [email protected]