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Senate enacting law to protect pregnant teens

26 September 2014, 08:16 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The Senate Assembly is debating on a motion that seeks to address the ever rising cases of teenage pregnancies and parenthood in the country.

Many girls below the age of 18 years are forced to drop out of school because of such cases, making it difficult for them to achieve the dreams they had in life.

The Motion which was introduced by nominated Senator, Elizabeth Ongoro, demands both the National and County governments to put in place mechanisms that establish a comprehensive capacity building programme for teenage parents to ensure they practice responsible family life.

In introducing the motion before the floor of the Senate, Ongoro said girls from poor families are the most affected by early pregnancies, adding that the Bill will enable both governments to come up with non-discriminatory back to school or training programmes, initiating necessary legal and policy framework in identifying the affected persons to benefit from the programmes.

“This problem compounds the vicious cycle of poverty in Kenya, and recognizing the socio-economic challenges facing this special category of parents including lack of income and entrepreneurial capacity, inadequate parenting skills , low educational levels and lack of health care,” said Ongoro.

She reiterated that the bill also seeks the two governments to guarantee funding and sustainability of initiative and other child welfare programmes intending to benefit teenage parents.

“I wonder why most brilliant teenage girls in class always fall victim of early pregnancy and drop out of school. We must find a way of curbing this vicious cycle,” said Ongoro.

She cited from the UN children welfare report which reveals that three in every 10 girls are impregnated before reaching 18 years and that the Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region at 90% globally.     

The Senate’s Majority Leader, Kithure Kindiki, who seconded the motion, said early pregnancies affect teenagers’ biological growth, education and social life due to naivety and unawareness to the consequences of early sexual acts.

“I thank Senator Ongoro for raising this issue affecting our children and their future which then affects the economy of our nation. This rising problem makes us asked whether the existing Children’s Act adequately addresses the issue of child early marriage,” said Kindiki.

He asserted that it is important to use the 2012-2013 Basic Education Act to help in addressing the right to education for girls affected with the problem of early parenthood especially by going back to school.

The Senate’s Majority Chief Whip, Beautrice Elachi, supported the motion and said there should be better ways of utilizing allocated funds for special groups such as the Youth and Women Fund, and the Constituency Development Fund especially by prioritizing urgent needs in the society.

Also read: Let’s tackle teen pregnancy

Elachi added that there is also need to amend the existing children laws to accommodate the emerging challenges in addition to devolving the rescue centers for vulnerable and marginalized groups to access basic services such as education and healthcare.

Busia Senator, Amos Wako, also threw his weight behind the motion saying it is the Constitutional mandate for the government to protect the rights of children whether she is pregnant below 18 years.

“It has been in the media recently that Kenya has the highest number of single mothers in the world. This is because of the men’s policy of hit and run,” said Wako.

Kwale Senator, Juma Boy, said the young people’s abandonment of the ethical African culture for the immoral Western culture has immensely contributed to the rising cases of early teenage pregnancies.

“We need to teach our children about the morality of our African culture and the legitimate religious behaviors. We also need to enact stiff laws for perpetrators of the act to face life imprisonment charges especially older persons chasing after young girls,” said Boy.  

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