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Impregnated and abandoned: Two school girls struggle to raise their Covid babies

NEWS
By Rosa Agutu | May 11th 2021

As the world marked Mother’s Day, two teens both residents of Mukuru Slums in Eastlands Nairobi, did not have much to celebrate given the weight of their problems. During the Covid period they were impregnated by men who have now fled from parental responsibility.

Whereas Sexuality education remains a hotly contested issue here in Kenya, girls aged between 15 and 18 years are indulging in sex, according to The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey; thinking that having protected and consensual sex 'with someone you love' is a good thing.

Take the case of Mary (not her real name) 17-year-old who ‘fell in love’ with a 24-year-old man. The illicit relationship resulted into a baby and she consequently dropped out school. Seven months later, the father of her child has denied responsibility, leaving the teenager to raise the child with her single mother.

“When I told him I was expectant he said he was not responsible and didn’t want anything to do with me or the baby. I was devastated, I was so in love with him and he betrayed me,” Mary told The Nairobian.

Mary’s mother never had the sex talk with her daughter and when Mary realized she was pregnant, she confided in her older sister who is 19-years-old.

“I told my sister because I was so terrified of my mother’s reaction. But when she was finally told she was receptive. I was so disappointed in myself because I felt like I had failed her. She is raising us alone and I have added another burden,” Mary said, adding that she did not know much about birth control and whenever she suggested condoms her boyfriend snapped.

“He got mad at me and asked whether I was sleeping with other men when I suggested we use condoms. He also told me not to use other forms of birth control because they are not safe. I wanted to go the clinic to get more information but I was scared my mother would be notified,” she said.

Mary isn’t the only teen mother neglected by the father of her child. Susan (not her real name) is a 16-year-old mother of a three-month old baby.

“My peers told me about birth control. They said pills and injections would cause infertility, non-stop bleeding and make me “cold” during intercourse, so I suggested a condom which he refused use,” she said.

The debate around teenage pregnancies and birth control has always sparked a heated debate. North Rift Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Chairperson Sheikh Abubakar Bin strongly opposes contraceptives to teenagers arguing that, “Introducing contraceptives to these teenagers is a way of telling them that it’s okay to engage in sex, in short we are telling them just have sex, we will shield you from getting pregnant. But we are forgetting about STI’s and HIV and the morals in general.”

Sheikh’s sentiments are opposed by two city parents, David Ochieng’ and Charity Wanjiku who insist that teenagers are already having sex so abstaining is out of the question, the best way to tackle this is through sex education.

Florence Keya the Sexuality Program Coordinator at Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH), insists on Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools which she describes as more than just sex talk.

“Teenagers need to be taught about their bodies and the expected changes, it’s always difficult when we go to schools to sensitize teenagers on reproductive health and the school’s administration tells you not to talk about condoms, because parents will not approve of it. One thing they need to understand is that these kids are already having sex, educating them will prevent early pregnancies and contracting STI’s,” she told The Nairobian.

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