During the long period that students have been on Covid-forced holiday, disturbing reports of an upsurge in cases of teenage pregnancies have emerged.
Since Covid-19 was reported in Kenya in March last year, the National Council on Population and Development says 20,828 girls between ages 10 and 14 have given birth while another 24,106 who fall in the 15 to 19 age bracket are either pregnant or mothers already.
Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya has ordered chiefs and their assistants to look for the 5,000 schoolgirls who have fallen pregnant in the region and ensure they go back to school. That is in order.
But that is not enough. The government should also go for those who have impregnated these girls and punish them.
Unfortunately, besides providing grim statistics, the government does little to rein in those responsible for the pregnancies, majority who are grown up men.
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Our laws are unambiguous. The age of consent is 18. Anyone who has sex with a person below that age is guilty of defilement.
Incredibly, thousands of men who have impregnated schoolgirls, some as young as 10, are still roaming free. The government doesn’t bother to pursue them even when the evidence is there. If the government was serious, our jails would be richer by 40,000 men during the Covid-19 period alone.
Besides the testimony of the girls, there is DNA technology to help pin down the culprits. If the government really cares about the thousands of children who have been turned into mothers, it must go for the men responsible.
They must be treated like the criminals they are. That will teach other perverted men to let minors be children and do what they are supposed to, which is be in school.