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HomeYour CountyNakuru“Kangaroo Courts” abets teenage pregnancies

“Kangaroo Courts” abets teenage pregnancies

‘Courts’ convened at village level have played a role in shielding sex pests.

Nakuru County Children Services’ Director Ms Alice Wanyonyi has reprimanded village kangaroo courts for fueling the increasing number of teenage pregnancies in the country.

Ms Wanyonyi observed that sometimes defilement cases were not expeditiously investigated by police due to the uncooperative nature of victims and their relatives, leading to their dismissal in court due to lack of evidence.

While urging guardians not to negotiate with the culprits and instead report them to the police, the Director lamented that many parents were opting for out-of-court settlements hence denying their children justice.

“There are a number of defilement cases going on unreported due to kangaroo courts initiated by village elders at a fee with the knowledge of some law enforcers, who derail justice for the gender-based violence (GBV) victims in most parts of the county,” Ms Wanyonyi pointed out.

Speaking during a meeting of the Nakuru Technical Committee on ending teenage pregnancies the director urged parents to speak up when their children are defiled and impregnated noting that this was the only way a culprit can be dealt with.

The event brought together representatives from the civil society, State Department for Gender, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education and Ministry of ICTInnovation and Youth Affairs.

Ms Wanyonyi said early pregnancies and growing HIV prevalence among teenagers was being fanned partly due to cultural practices such as early marriages, polygamy, low literacy levels, especially among women and low access to contraceptives.

The Director called for a sustained campaign against harmful cultural practises which fuelled teen pregnancies and improved access to modern contraceptives.

She said that most of the girls were being impregnated by people well known to them adding that some of the defilement cases before courts were taking too long to be resolved providing a window for minors to be compromised.

“We must warn wayward guardians, law enforcement agents and administrators that our girls are not goods for exchange or service for monetary gains. It is disappointing because some of these girls if you listen to their cases, you will find that they have not been impregnated by their fellow young boys in school, but by adults,” she added.

Secretary to Nakuru County Reproductive Health Network Mr Cosmas Mutua indicated that more than half (51 percent) of all new HIV infections in Kenya are occurring among adolescents and young people aged between 15 and 24 years, a rapid rise from 29 percent in 2013.

He said the trend was linked to increased teenage pregnancies as statistics from the Kenya Democratic and Health (KDHS) indicated that one in every five girls aged between 15 and 19 years is either pregnant or already a mother.

Mr Mutua observed that early sexual activities responsible for teenage pregnancies also increased the period young persons are exposed to the risk of sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

While raising concerns over the increasing number of young people in Kenya who are HIV positive, he noted that pregnancy among teens aged 15-19 stands at about 18.1 percent — an insignificant change since 1993 when it was estimated at 20.5 percent.

Mr Mutua further pointed out that the number of suicides among the 15-24 age group had risen sharply adding that underlying factors that contribute to the various crises facing teenagers such as parental neglect, inappropriate forms of recreation, low self-esteem, use of alcohol and substance abuse need to be urgently addressed.

“Majority of young girls and women don’t have the ability to negotiate for safer sex. Most of them are usually subjected to sexual and gender based violence. Local people should make it easier for law enforcement agencies by reporting the incidents before the evidence is erased,” he said.

According to Director to Octre Kenya Ms Evelyne Wairimu cross-generational relationships where teenage girls have limited say, transactional sexual relationships, unequal gender power relations, poverty, lack of parental counselling and guidance were also to blame for increased teenage pregnancies.

“Young persons perceive themselves as having very low chances of being infected with sexually transmitted infections. Majority of them change their sex partner very frequently. Since they are not married, they don’t feel compelled to be faithful. One risk for young people is having concurrent multiple partners. It means that they are exposing themselves more,” warned Ms Wairimu.

She pointed out that rapid erosion of moral and social skills among the affected age group is to blame for the increased HIV prevalence, especially in the cities where young women are dating older men for financial gain.

Representatives from the civil society, State Department for Gender, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education and Ministry of ICTInnovation and Youth Affairs during a meeting of the Nakuru Technical Committee on ending teenage pregnancies

Ms Wairimu called on parents to be clear on sexual values and attitudes, talk with their children early and often about sexuality, to be involved in their children’s lives more, thus be able to monitor most of their activities.

The Director indicated that while measures to curb teenage pregnancies have largely focused on females, boys and men should not only be held responsible for their sexual behaviour but also targeted with interventions.

“Involving boys and men makes programming for girls more effective by addressing both sides of the teen pregnancy equation. We need community-based programmes, led by men to educate adolescent boys on responsible manhood and encourage them to abstain from sex and to use contraception if they are sexually active,” added Ms Wairimu.




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