The rising cases of teenage pregnancies are threatening to erode gains made in empowering the girl-child and disrupt socio-cultural order in Kakamega county.
The trend has caused panic to both parents and the County government because 40 per cent of the pregnancies arise from sexual abuse including rape and incest — which makes it difficult for the cases to be reported. Statistics indicate that only 20 per cent of the victims rarely seek help.
Consequently, County Medical Services director Dr David Oluoch wants programmes on adolescence, sexuality and reproductive health education introduced in schools. According to the Reproductive Health coordinator Ralpher Mwenesi, 50 per cent of teenage girls in the county have engaged in premature sex while one out of five girls could either be pregnant, has had an abortion or is already a mother.
She also said 50 per cent of all new cases of sexually transmitted infections affect the youth, 40 per cent of who engage in drug abuse. Mwenesi blamed inappropriate socialisation where sex education is considered a taboo, stigmatisation of condom use, inaccessible family planning services as well as anti-condom and family planning services campaigns led by the church for the unwanted pregnancies explosion in the county.
She said the county intends to establish an exclusive centre where young people will be provided with reproductive health information, family planning methods, guidance and counseling services. County Education Director (CED) Susan Murerwa decrid the situation and urged parents and residents to protect young girls from sex pests.