“Times have changed, we need to acknowledge the fact that our kids are already engaging in sex”, says Wanjiku* who has a teenage daughter. With the closure of schools, the number of teenagers engaging in sex has risen.
Cynthia, a young mother to tell us her story; “In March, when schools were closed, we were excited that we would be spending the remaining time of the term at home. During the first month of the pandemic, my parents were quite strict on me and my brother moving around so we had no other choice but to stay at home.
After a couple of weeks, they were lenient and allowed us to leave the house but not later than 6 pm due to the curfew that had been imposed. During this time, I met this man. He was really friendly and he would take me back home at the end of the day. He told me he was still in university.
In May he began inviting me to his house. At first, I was reluctant but I was later convinced and agreed to visit him. Later on, I learned I was pregnant. When I told him, he shunned me away. I was left with no other choices but to inform my parents. Despite their disappointment they still offered support.”
“School closure has stopped the provision of sanitary towels and school meals which children from poor families rely on. In order to acquire these needs, some young girls engage in transactional sex without protection. These puts them at a high risk of being pregnant and contracting Sexual Transmitted Diseases and HIV and AIDS”, BHESP E.D.
Despite studies stating that children are less prone to Covid-19, they have turned out to be some of the biggest casualties of the COVID 19 pandemic in Kenya. They are some of the biggest casualties of the pandemic in Kenya. Kenya Health Information system released results in June stating that 4000 teenage girls became pregnant in Machakos County between January and May. Nairobi county is leading with a total of 11 795 teenage pregnancies. The report added that since the pandemic was reported Kenya in early March, some 20,828 girls between 10 and 14 years old had given birth while 24,106 15 to 19-year-olds were either pregnant or already mothers. This sparked a heated debate all over social media.
In his July 6 speech concerning coronavirus, President Kenyatta declared the growing cases of violation of children’s rights, pointing out teen pregnancies. “I am concerned about the increasing tensions in our homes. Cases of gender-based violence have increased… and instances of teenage pregnancy have escalated. I appeal to social institutions… to exercise civic responsibility and bring these unfortunate trends to an end,” the President said. He ordered a directive to the National Crime Research Centre to investigate child rights violations. Following the order to close up schools and other learning institutions, cases concerning children, such as sexual abuse, abduction, and murder have shot up.
Inclusion of Sexual and Reproductive Health Services as part of COVID-19 response plan.
As quoted previously in this article, teenagers are already engaging in sex. Most have sexual intercourse without sufficient information concerning family planning, contraceptives, and other sexual and reproductive health services. There is a need to embrace new ways of providing sexual and reproductive health information and services, including through social media, radio.