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Use of art proves vital in curbing teen pregnancies

 Youths from Bungoma using 'Art' as an advocacy tool against sexual gender-based violence. [Juliet Omelo, Standard]

Violet Nasambu* was left under her father's care when she was 12. Instead of the care a father would give to a daughter, the man turned into a beast. He started defiling her and threatening her with death if she ever told anyone of her ordeal.

 Today, she is among young girls struggling with pregnancies after defilement. Aged just 14, she does not know where she will take her child once she gives birth.

There are fears that prevention measures are not taken to protect school girls and women, the situation will get out of hand.

And as Kenya celebrates 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), Bungoma County’s sexual and gender-based violence prevalence is at 23 per cent, compared to the national average of 13 per cent.

 As a mitigation measure, the county government has partnered with humanitarian and community-based organisations (CBOs) to create awareness and advocate against teenage pregnancies through music, drama and art.

This year’s theme is ‘invest to prevent violence against women and girls'. The 16 days run from November 25 to December 10 every year.

Through an arts and music exhibition dubbed ‘Integration of art in creating awareness’ in Bungoma town, locals are being taught new ways of expressing their emotions and communicating on matters regarding GBV. 

Beryl Moraa, a community engagement consultant at Ipas, says they are exploring ways to use art to address sexual and gender-based violence.

“We decided to involve adolescents because they are the ones who undergo all forms of violence directly and also to give them a platform to showcase their talents, motivate and make them feel their voice counts,” said Moraa

“We have partnered with county governments and organisations operating within those counties to use art to create awareness on gender-based violence,” she said.

She also noted that they are planning to have similar events in other counties, including talent shows, medical camps and legal clinics.

 Mariam Mohammed, programmes manager at Stage Media Arts, said their work is to create awareness in the community and support GBV victims when it comes to escalating the issues to the Judiciary systems so that they get justice,” she said.

Jesse Wafula, the county adolescent sexual reproductive health coordinator, said there are high numbers of new infections of HIV/Aids. In the past four months alone, Bungoma has recorded 1,500 new cases.

Wafula said that an early teenage pregnancy puts young girls at risk with some even losing their lives.

 Nasambu, whose identity has been protected,  hopes other girls do not have to go through a similar experience.

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