A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report in Kenya shows 378,397 adolescent and teenage pregnancies for girls ages 10-19 between July 2016 and June this year. More specifically, there were 28,932 girls ages 10-14 and 349,465 girls ages 15-19 who became pregnant.
The counties with the highest number of teenage pregnancies begin with Narok, where 40 per cent of its teenagers became pregnant. The list goes on to include the counties Homa Bay at 33 per cent, West Pokot at 29 per cent, Tana River at 28 per cent, Nyamira at 28 per cent, Samburu at 26 per cent, and Migori and Kwale both at 24 per cent.
Teenage pregnancies have been linked to poverty. Many people believe girls in poverty engage in “transitional” sex to meet basic needs. Others blame “absentee parents” or a lack of parental guidance and exposure to information on the Internet – both which can lead to curiosity and therefore teenage pregnancy. Yet, others even say these girls are “mature minors” who consented to sex. Lastly, the problem is attributed to some people taking advantage of the innocence of the girls.
As a society, we all have a role to play to change this trend. It is time we strongly support age-appropriate sex education at all levels- from our families, schools, and even places of worship. By providing comprehensive sex education, youth-friendly services, and accessible and quality reproductive health services, we can ensure girls plan their lives and make informed decisions for their futures. It is also time to acknowledge that we have many cases of defilement leading to pregnancies that society looks at as “the girl consented to sex.” All cases need to be investigated where the girl in question is a minor.