Data from Kenya National Council for Population and Development (KNCPD) 2021 indicates that, the teenage pregnancy and motherhood rate in Kenya stands at 18%. This implies that about 1 in every 5 teenage girls between the ages of 15-19 years, have either had a live birth or are pregnant with their first child. The rate increases rapidly with age from 3% among girls aged 15, to 40% among girls aged 19. The situation varies by county with some counties being disproportionately affected than the others.
On Thursday 17th, Damaris (not her real name),15, made over ten miss calls trying to get someone to beg Sh1,500. Earlier on, she says she had been recommended by the nurse to come with the money in order to carry out some tests at Shepherds Health Centre.
The last time I visited this health facility, at least 100 young expectant mothers were waiting to be served.
Damaris, now a teen mother of baby boy, says despite the government making lots of pleasing promises to promote the health of expectant mothers and yong girls, she is still here to bear the brunt.
"All I wanted was Shs1,500 for the tests because last week they asked me to go and do scans outside the facility," she says.
But how did Damaris get to this situation?
"I fell in love with this 18-year-old guy who sells Marijuana in Muthurwa market but is currently under arrest in Narok Remand Prison. He told me he loved me and so we have been dating since last year . I did not know I was pregnant after we got intimate until the signs show up. I did not plan for this," she laments.
Kenya’s National Reproductive Health Policy 2022-2032 is against issuing contraceptives to minors despite acknowledging that a significant proportion of young people continue to have an incorrect perception of their risks in early sexual debut.
Damaris says that before she fell pregnant, she had made attempts to obtain contraceptives from local public health facilities but she was turned down.
One of her close friends, 20, backed her, saying: “As young girls, we are very sexually active and when we go to public health facilities to try and talk to them about giving us contraceptives they chase us away, especially if you are not 18 and above. I think it is time the government accepted the fact that its abstinence and morality campaign is not working, and allow girls as young as 13 to access contraception services, otherwise teen pregnancies will keep on going up.”
In a past interview with the Nation, Chief Justice Martha Koome, revealed that a majority of cases she has had to deal with in court are of children – both male and female – who have been sexually abused and violated.
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