Teen Pregnancies

November 2019

Unplanned and unwanted pregnancies have been a major setback in Kenya and much the same the world over. When boys and girls hit puberty, they become very conscious of their bodies, and the new developments. Hormones play a big part in this development stage. For those that have been taught what changes to expect as they grow up, they pass this stage with little difficulty. There are, however, those that totally follow what peers are telling them, and the result is usually not good.

We saw some of the girls in our Scholarship Program fall pregnant after school; thankfully they had all finished with their secondary education. The flip side, however, is they weren’t prepared or ready for the consequences of early pregnancies. They felt embarrassed and kept away from the other girls until they gave birth. They watched as the rest of the girls joined colleges and went on to finish with flying colors. The time  the other girls spent at home nursing their pregnancies and the babies when they arrived could have been spent in college. We are, however, happy that they did not opt for abortion. The girls who got pregnant and had babies are now done with nursing their little ones and are earning to join college. The challenge is that they come from impoverished backgrounds and acquiring a college education is not easy. The boys and men who got the girls pregnant took off as soon as they learned of the pregnancies. The girls are now on their own, raising their babies by themselves and trying to join college, so they can improve their lives.

A girl from one of the schools where we offer the Choice Club Mentorship Program was narrating a tale of abuse and misery after she got pregnant at 15 years of age. Her parents told her to move to the boy’s home; the boy, himself a child, so she stayed with the boy and his parents. She was adamant on joining Secondary School, which her mother agreed to pay for on the condition that she continued staying with the boy’s family. Before long the boy kicked her out of the home because he didn’t want her to go back to school. She went to her mother’s home, where she was not wanted, and begged her mother to tend to the baby as she went back to school. The mother after much argument, allowed her to leave the baby with her for one term, and after that she wanted them both gone. As everyone at school was excited and getting ready to go home for the holidays, this girl was miserable wondering where she was going to stay with her baby. Going back to the boy’s family was out of question, if she wanted to continue studying. She said the boy had battered her a couple of times. We are grateful for organizations that have opened rescue centers for young mothers offering the girls a sense of dignity as they raise their babies. There is still great need for more centers because many girls continue to give birth at an early age.

The schools have just concluded Standard 8 exams. Many of the girls took the tests while pregnant; these girls are between 11 and 15 years old. Three of the girls actually gave birth as they were sitting their exams and had to finish the exams in the hospital. Ambulances were on standby in schools, especially in the rural areas, for such emergencies.  Last year we had over 100 girls who sat their primary leaving exam while pregnant. A lot of sensitization still needs to be done; we cannot say we have done enough. Alcohol, drug and substance use and abuse contributes greatly to this situation. Most girls will admit to having been intoxicated when they got involved in premarital sex.

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