The government has expressed concern about the high rate of defilement in Kakamega North.
Last week, a multi-agency team comprised of national and county government officials visited two local schools hardest hit by the crisis.
The schools have seen an increase in the number of teen pregnancies involving girls aged 15 to 19.
According to Kabras Police Station statistics, at least 16 cases of defilement and three incest incidents were reported last month.
Students from schools in the Manda/Shivanga ward were found to be the most defiled.
According to statistics, St Monica Namatala Girls and Namtala Primary School had at least eight defilement cases last month alone.
There are also concerns that pregnant schoolgirls may seek the services of quack doctors in order to obtain abortions while being unaware of the risks.
Teenage pregnancy, according to Faith Tila, a nurse, is a ticking time bomb in the area.
“By December 4th, we had already recorded 10 cases of defilement at our hospital, my worry is that we will have recorded even more cases by December.”
She stated that the Malava sub-county hospital sees between 60 and 85 deliveries per day, with the majority of them being teenage mothers.
“Recently, we had a case of a 13-year-old who was induced by a midwife before being rushed to hospital but she could not make it due to excessive bleeding. That same day, we also had six deliveries by teenagers, it is a worrying trend,” said Tila.
Beatrice Mukungu, the deputy headteacher at St Monica Namatala Girls, expressed concern about rising cases of defilement.
According to Kabras police station data, 1,500 cases of Gender-Based Violence have been reported this year alone.
Society remain adamant about sex-ed.
The revelation that over 1.7 million adolescent girls became pregnant in the last five years has reignited the debate about sex education in schools.
Various lobbying groups of the school of thought that sex education will help address unwanted pregnancies and risky sexual behaviour among teenagers have made a push over the last decade.
The groups have proposed that HIV and STI prevention, contraception, and unintended pregnancy be taught in schools.
Many in government, as well as parents, school administrators, and religious leaders, will not hear any of it.
The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, the government agency in charge of the school curriculum, rejected advocacy in September to introduce comprehensive sex education in schools.
According to Jacqueline Onyango, deputy director in charge of curriculum and research services, such knowledge is a violation of a child’s constitutional right.
According to her, those attending primary and secondary schools are minors, and thus information on topics such as contraception would be inappropriate content because they lack the ability to make their own decisions on sexual consent, as stipulated by the Constitution.
“These are children between the age of 10 and 17 we are talking about and as per the Kenyan Constitution, such information is not appropriate,” Onyango said.
According to data released last week, 1,770,861 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 were found to be pregnant in the last five years, with 2018 recording the highest number of teen pregnancies at 427,135.
In 2016, there were 275,633 teenagers who were pregnant and 339,676 in 2017.
With 396,340, 2019 was the second-highest year.
The data came from the number of adolescents who went to their first antenatal clinic.
It was feared that the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent nine-month school closure would have a negative impact on the girls.
However, data show that the number reduced by 65,263 in 2020 compared to 2019.
Counties most affected
According to data, Nairobi had the highest number of teen pregnancies, with 22,159, followed by Narok (15,225), Kakamega (14,768), Meru (14,669), Bungoma (13,376), Nakuru (12,450), Homa Bay (11,867), Trans Nzoia (11,601), Kajiado (10,872), and Kiambu (10,382).
Lamu had the fewest teen pregnancies in 2020, with 1,062.
Taita Taveta was followed by Isiolo 2,092, Nyandarua 2,306, Embu 2,310, Mombasa 2,365, and Nyeri 2,380.
According to the KICD, it has made efforts to incorporate sex education that is appropriate for the Kenyan context into the current subjects taught in primary and secondary schools.
“Sex education is actually incorporated in our education system. For example, when they are in early years, we teach them about the parts of their bodies, reproductive health in upper primary and the lessons get more complex as they develop,” Onyango said.
The figures call the strategy’s effectiveness into question.
According to Nicholas Maiyo, chairman of the National Parents Association, Kenya lacks a proper framework to guide the required parental consent for students to receive sex education.
He went on to say that culturally retrogressive beliefs overshadow parents’ involvement in developing appropriate sex education.
“It is a taboo to speak about sex in most of our cultures and this has not been made easy by the lack of sensitisation by the government,” Maiyo said.
According to a study commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta, more than 160,000 girls aged 10 to 19 were either pregnant or married off during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to a report released in June.
The report sought to determine the consequences of a nine-month closure of educational institutions following the Covid-19 outbreak in mid-March 2020.
Another study, conducted in 2017, by the research and policy organization Guttmacher Institute, found that more than a third of Kenyan teenagers aged 15 to 19 had already had sex.
One-fifth of the population is currently sexually active. While only four out of every ten sexually active unmarried adolescent girls use any modern method of contraception, the vast majority of them want to avoid pregnancy.
One-fifth of them are already mothers, and more than half of their pregnancies were unplanned.
An earlier report commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta to assess the impact of Covid-19 on teenagers discovered that sexual violence and insufficient reproductive health information and services are major drivers of teen pregnancy.
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Forced marriage, poverty, a lack of parental guidance, and peer pressure are also factors.
According to the report, ending adolescent pregnancy necessitates a multi-sectoral approach.