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Coast leaders in crisis meeting to address rampant teen pregnancies

COAST
By Philip Mwakio | July 10th 2020

Leaders from the Coast region held a crisis meeting to deliberate how to end teenage pregnancies in the region.

The region has been identified as among areas where teenage pregnancies are rampant, leading to high number of school dropouts.

The meeting chaired by the Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata at Uhuru na Kazi building brought together government officials, religious leaders and civil societies who called for urgent measures to end teenage pregnancies.

Statistics show coastal counties recorded over 4,000 teenage pregnancies between January and May this year, with Kilifi leading with 3,376 cases, followed by Mombasa with 941 cases.

"Reports we have received show that girls aged 10 and 19 got pregnant from March after schools were closed over the Covid-19 pandemic," Mr Elungata said.

At the meeting, it was revealed that heightened sexual activity among young girls has been encouraged by use of mobile phones, peer pressure, social gatherings, beach activities, lack of awareness on reproductive health and poverty.

Boda boda operators have been blamed for luring young girls with offers of free rides to and from schools in exchange for sexual favours.

Elungata said there was a need to involve all leaders from the region in finding a lasting solution to teenage pregnancies, which he said is a major social challenge prevalent in the region.

The administrator said the Government would put pressure on chiefs and their assistants and other grassroots leaders to be proactive in the war against teenage pregnancies and other sexual abuse offences.

He said teenage pregnancies not only disrupt young girls’ quest for education, but also pose a serious physical and psycho-social health challenges to the young girls.

“We must treat this matter seriously and those responsible must be exposed and punished according to the law," he said.

He also asked parents to shape the morals of their children and monitor their movements, especially during school holidays.

Sheikh Khalifa recommended amendment of the Sexual Offences Act to provide harsher penalties against those who make minors pregnant.

The Sexual Offences Act states that a person found guilty of defiling a minor aged between 12 and 15 will be jailed for at least 20 years. Those who have sex with girls aged 16 to 18 years get a minimum of 15 years.

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