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Parents forcing abortion on their teen daughters


*Hope Nyaboke was in form two and terminating her pregnancy was the better option to termination her education. Then there was family pride at stake. And had she not made them so proud last year when she joined a reputable secondary school? But her parents’ plan ended in an abortion that resulted in kidney failure.

After the above case, we commissioned a research that was carried out by Ipsos Synovate this month.

The respondents gave various reasons for abortion, but the majority of those who procured it were unmarried: The major reasons were that, besides being unmarried, they did not want a child mainly for financial reasons. Others cited their being unmarried and did not want a child because they were in school. Still, others, also unmarried, had ended the relationship with the man involved.

Other reasons that cut both ways for the married and unmarried were that some women terminated pregnancies because such reasons like rape or incest. Abortions were also procured for both single and married women on medical grounds or doctor’s advice. For some married women, financial reasons were also cited.But parents procuring abortion for their daughter? Well, according to experts we engaged, parents force their daughters to abort due to, among other things, educational pursuits, religious perceptions, different social classes of the parties concerned, ethnic tensions, age gaps and to terminate ‘taboo children’ resulting from incest.

Listen to Wandia Maina, a psychologist at Phoenix Training in Nairobi’s Kilimani area, who posits that the main reason behind parents procuring abortion for their daughters is to skirt shame: “The first thing that comes to mind in a parent’s mind is living in shame, not only before their friends, but also for the sake of their own children around her peers.”

Wandia says the reason is selfish and “parents need to stop living for the society and accept who they are and the circumstances they have to live with. This can only be achieved by surrounding themselves with good friends who can understand them and support them when they are going down the rough road.” Wandia, who has a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Daystar University, attributes the second reason to the child’s future.

“Most parent assume that once a child gets pregnant they will not have a full productive future and so they encourage them to abort to achieve a successful life. They need to learn that there is always a second chance.”

The church does not make matters easier.

The Chair of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, His Lordship Rt Rev Bishop Phillip Anyolo, says that despite the fact that children out of wedlock are not encouraged by the church, abortion is never an option.

“Abortion is killing and it can never be considered,” Bishop said adding that the church has set aside counselling institutes to not only talk to the youth but also parents. “We have in the past ignored parents out of this talk but recently we are also sensitizing them against abortion. We need them to guide their children.” There are far reaching repercussions when parents procure abortion for their daughters.

Akech Aimba runs a support group that address sexuality issues including crisis pregnancies, says she has come across girls who are bitter and hate their parents who forced them to terminate their pregnancies.

Within the nuclear family, for instance, one parent can arrange for an abortion without the knowledge of the other parent to salvage the family shame.

“When a mother, or vice versa, realises that the girl is pregnant, they ensure the procedure is discretely done to save the family from embarrassment,” says Akech, adding that it’s usually a selfish reason that comes with physical and emotional costs.

“They are angry because they were forced to abort yet they could have kept the pregnancies and continued with their lives,” says the founder of Pearls and Treasures Trust.

Such reasons that drive a parent, or both, to take their daughter to procure an abortion are selfish, Akech charges, noting that girls undergo post-traumatic stress syndrome where they grief their loss yet the parents only care about societal perceptions.

“Later when these girls understand they were forced to abort, some end up becoming pregnant again to ‘replace’ the child.” she added.

Akech points out, “When parents don’t approve of the relationship; when they feel the guy is not good enough for their daughters, the pregnancy is terminated” yet a supportive family network and the society can help the girls keep their pregnancies and facilitate their return to school.

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