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Home / Health & Science

Teenage girls on contraceptives are either married, have steady partners

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MERCY KAHENDA | Tue,Jun 22 2021 17:06:21 EAT
By MERCY KAHENDA | Tue,Jun 22 2021 17:06:21 EAT

 At least 80 per cent of the women use contraception, compared with 20 per cent who reportedly abstained from sex. [Courtesy]

Many girls and women who fall victim to unintended pregnancies either lack information on sexual health or have low uptake of contraceptives.

According to a new survey released by the Centre for Reproductive Rights and Trust for Indigenous Culture Health (TICAH), lack of information also contributes to increased cases of unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

Gender-based violence including rape and sexual exploitation are the other contributing factors according to the study conducted in Bungoma, Kericho, Homabay, Kilifi and Nairobi counties where girls aged 15 and below were found to lack knowledge on preventing unintended pregnancies as opposed to those aged between 21 and 30 years.

At least 80 per cent of the women use contraception, compared with 20 per cent who reportedly abstained from sex.

Majority of girls under 15 reporting abstinence are single, and in school, while those using contraceptives are aged 15 and above and are either married or have a steady partner.

Further, it was noted that 36 per cent of women and girls under 25 years have the lowest understanding of reproductive rights.

Of the group, 52 per cent are unmarried and three per cent semi-literate, while 62 per cent understand reproductive rights.

“Majority of women and girls, irrespective of age, are uninformed of the constitutional provisions on sexual reproductive health rights including abortion,” reads a section of the report findings.

Majority of girls under 15 reporting abstinence are single, and in school, while those using contraceptives are aged 15 and above and are either married or have a steady partner.

The study was aimed at evaluating access to sex and reproductive health information by women and girls, and the role played by the government in facilitating the same.

In the five counties, it was found that learning institutions offered limited or no comprehensive education on sexual and reproductive health despite school-going girls preferring receiving such info there.

The report also found that that men, women, and girls with multiple disabilities such as hearing, sight, and speech were neither substantively involved nor considered in such program design.

Surprisingly, only 12 per cent of girls aged between 12 and 19 years, and 38 per cent of women aged between 21 and 30 years are knowledgeable about menstruation.

Also, most married girls and women lack autonomy, choice, or decision-making in negotiating for safe sex or not to have sex, with the decision given to their spouses.

Betty Odallo, Advocacy Adviser for Africa at Center for Reproductive Rights said it is worrying that “whereas government facilities provided information on some reproductive health services such as delivery, and post-natal care, it failed to provide information on abortion care, post-abortion care, assisted reproduction and contraceptives,”  yet Article 43 of the constitution guarantees the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including reproductive health while Article 35 provides for the right to access information.  

Jade Maina, Executive Director, TICAH, said to avert risks attributed to sex, the government must “leave no one behind in designing sexual and reproductive health and rights programs.”

The report also recommended that all health facilities be equipped with trained health service providers besides including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health in the school curriculum besides undertaking “regular, nationwide awareness campaigns on sexual and reproductive health for persons of all demographics on widely accessible media.” 

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