As Kenya battles to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, one county in the country is facing another challenge, that of teen pregnancies.
In a report published by a local publication, the Children’s Department in Machakos County — one of the 47 counties in the country — has alleged that in the last four months alone, about 4,000 school girls below the age of 19 have been impregnated.
Children’s Department Officer Salome Muthama attributed the rise in teen pregnancies to the COVID-19 pandemic which led to school closure. Further, she accused parents of neglecting their children and urged them to step up in their role saying a majority of the cases involve close relatives.
She also challenged the Judiciary to provide the Children’s Department with legal advisors who can help speed up the cases saying most of them are languishing in child correctional centres due to lack of court representation.
According to a breakdown by the officer; Masinga sub-county has 104 cases of pregnancies of children between the ages of 10-14 and another 601 cases for those between 15-19. Athi River has seven pregnancies for minors aged 10-14 and 561 for those between 15-19; Machakos has 48 (ages 10-14) and 259 (ages 15-19); Yatta has 10 (ages 10-14) and 462 (ages 15-19).
The Machakos County government has however refuted these figures proper investigations to be done for the figures to be verified.
The news sparked a conversation online with Kenyans trying to make sense of the situation.
Why would you pardon parents to this menace, all pregnancies are a biological function, we can't be having thousands of school girls pregnant and blame biology. A good number of parents to these youngsters are too busy "working" forgetting to teach them life hazards.
— Dr MN JOHN (@DrMnJohn) June 18, 2020
Kenya has been listed among countries with the highest teen pregnancy rates with 82 births per 1,000 births.