Linet Akinyi stares into space and appears to be in deep thought as a group of students walk past her home on their way home from school.
She wipes drips of sweat with a scarf off her forehead as she nurses her five-month-old son. At 17 years old, she is the age mate of most of the school girls walking by but they remain worlds apart due to her current situation.
Akinyi is already a young mother after she was defiled by a boda boda rider while the others are pursuing their dream in school.
She was at Rawinji Chief’s camp in Rachuonyo South Sub-county in Homa Bay during the launch of this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence when The Standard team caught up with her.
Akinyi is at first hesitant to speak but when she eventually opened up, it was easy to read the pain in her voice and the tears she wiped every so often.
Last year, she was a pupil at a primary school on the outskirts of Oyugis town in Rachuonyo South. But mockery by her fellow pupils and difficulties orchestrated by her pregnancy made her stop going to school.
Her world turned upside down last year when a Boda boda operator lured her to his house and defiled her.
Despite being a minor, the boda boda operator would secretly prey on her and defile her after enticing her with gifts.
Cut off communication
“One day I disagreed with my mother and went to the boda boda rider. He took advantage of me and defiled me,” she claims.
After realising that he had impregnated her, the rider fled and has never been seen again.
“He initially lied that he would marry me. But upon realising I was pregnant he cut off all communication with me and abandoned the cellphone line he was using. The worst action he took was to relocate from the house where he lived,” she added. Today, Akinyi is among the teenage mothers in Homa Bay whose lives have been disrupted.
During the event, several other teenage girls who are longing for a chance to return to school also graced the event. A number of them claimed they had gone through GBV.
Homa Bay has a high prevalence rate of teen pregnancies which currently stands at 33 per cent, making it second after Narok. Between April and July this year, the county recorded 1441 cases of gender-based violence.
Stakeholders are now pushing for an end to GBV cases in Homa Bay and are keen to use the 16 Days of Activism against GBV to campaign against all forms of GBV including defilement.
The campaign was launched by Homa Bay CEC for Gender and Social Services Sarah Malit.