Parents residing in slums in Trans Nzoia County have been named as contributing factors towards a recent upsurge in cases of teenage pregnancies among girls in primary and secondary schools in the region.
The said parents have been accused of exposing their young girls to conditions that lead to indulgence in sexual activities that result in early pregnancies. Most of the parents are said to be engaging in the sale of illicit brew that brings their children in contact with men.
“Some of the parents have developed a habit of sending their young girls on errands like hawking that see them operate up to late night hours where they are enticed by men who give them money,” the region’s National Parents Association chairman Wellington Waliaula said.
About 30 girls, who study at St. Emmanuel mixed secondary school within Folk Land slum, are pregnant, with teachers saying that efforts to have the culprits behind their status brought to book have not yielded much since parents are bribed to keep mum.
“We have been faced with a challenge as a school in assisting the girls seek justice since most of the parents resort to having the cases solved away from the courts of law where they are compensated with money,” the school deputy Grace Masire said.
The school principal, Cornelius Mukhwana, said that the vice has greatly affected the performance of the girls at school, since most of them have to cope with absenteeism while receiving prenatal or postnatal healthcare.
The prenatal and postnatal healthcare program was launched launched at St. Raphael Big Tree Secondary school in Kiminini constituency, where the principal Nancy Khaemba opined that the situation is mostly rampant in mixed day schools.
“We rely on parents and guardians to guard the girls when they are not in school since perpetrators take advantage of them in their absence. We currently have eight cases,” Khaemba said.
She said the school has set up a support system for pregnant students who are taken through counseling and also assisted to access prenatal care services at public health facilities.
“We also talk to other students against stigmatizing their colleagues who are pregnant. We sensitize them on the need to understand that while they erred, they have a chance to rectify that if they are disciplined,” the principal said.
Village elders in the region termed night vigils at homesteads with funerals, popularly known as Disco Matanga, as the major avenues through which the girls are impregnated by men who entice them with money.
“Bad influences through peer pressure and poverty are also major catalysts for these cases. Parents and guardians should avoid habits that expose their girls to this vice,” Kanani village elder Gilbert Walumbwa said.
Some of the girls who spoke to K24 Digital cited lack of basic necessities like sanitary pads asa factor that pushed them to hook up with men with some of them ending up pregnant.
"I am lucky but I know of my friends who rely on boda boda men to supply them with money to buy sanitary towels as those issued in school are not enough. Quite a number have ended up pregnant due to pressure to pay for the pads with sex," one of the girls stated.
The county government’s reproductive health coordinator Betty Khaemba who is overseeing a sensitization exercise to enlighten the girls on how to avoid the trap of early pregnancy, called for tougher legal measures to curb the vice.
“Perpetrators of this vice must be brought to book and be charged according to the sexual offences act since most of these girls are left on their own as the culprits chase the next prey,” Mrs Khaemba said, as she added that the teen pregnancy rate in the county stands at 49 percent.