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Recently a major NGO dealing with maternal health and teen pregnancies announced the cessation of its projects sponsorship in Siaya County. Luckily the same Organization confirmed that it will not be withdrawing completely it’s support for the specific scourge of teen pregnancies.

Here is why….

The youngest mother in Siaya County comes from Gem constituency and she is 13 years old. The girl was impregnated by a 20-year-old man, who is a well-known cattle herdsman in the area. Teenage pregnancy is one of the main problems that adolescent and teenage girls face in Siaya County. According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014, the percentage of adolescent and teenage girls who have begun child bearing stands at 17% in Siaya County.

Teenage pregnancy has forced a lot of young girls in Siaya County to abandon their dreams and goals in life. They drop out of school which makes them have limited future because of the many risks surrounding them, such as HIV and STIs infection, early and forced marriages, Sexual gender based violence and maternal deaths just to mention a few.

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Despite teenage pregnancy being a serious problem in Siaya County, people have turned a blind eye to it. Majority of the people in Siaya County see teenage pregnancy as normal. The culture in the region states that the work of a woman is to give birth and she should always obey the man. This has made it difficult for women in the region to negotiate for safer sex hence putting them at risk of contracting HIV/ STIs and unintended pregnancy.

Limited access to comprehensive sexual education, limited access to accurate and quality sexual and reproductive health services, poverty, and gender inequality has also contributed to the rising cases of teenage pregnancies in Siaya County.

Sexual and reproductive health is a human right and everyone has a right to it. Article 43 of the Kenyan constitution states that; Every person has the right to the highest attainable standards of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care. Moreover article 35 of the Kenyan constitution states that: Every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State; and information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. Lastly, every person has the right to the correction or deletion of untrue or misleading information that affects the person.

When young girls have access to quality and accurate comprehensive sexual information and services, then they can stay in school and delay their first pregnancy. Girls can dare to dream and achieve their goals and dreams in life. Access to comprehensive sexual information and services empowers young girls to determine their future.

Nairobi City County leads in teen pregnancies countrywide with an average of 452 catalogued cases monthly. Not even Church is blameless over scourge of teen pregnancy.

The county government of Siaya should invest more on contraception uptake among young people and comprehensive sexual education in schools if they are to win the war against teenage pregnancy.

—Source:SMG

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