Most teenage girls in Nairobi County are having sex at a young age, a new study has revealed. According to the study released on Thursday by the Nairobi Brain Trust (NBT) Network, an amalgamation of several civil society organizations dealing with women rights, the majority of girls aged between 10 and 19 years in Nairobi County are sexually active.
53 per cent of adolescents in the age group above are said to have had penetrative sex and half of these have been pregnant with almost a quarter of them opting for abortion in order to continue with their education as well as avoid societal shame, seclusion and discrimination.
The November 2013 survey interviewed 255 girls in six residential areas in Nairobi and mostly from informal settlements.
Even more disturbing is the revelation that 19 percent of the girls, the majority of them children below 18 years, were engaged in commercial sex activities.
This is without a doubt perturbing considering that these are school-going children who are likely to drop out of school due to pregnancies but are also at the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Recent statistics have it that young adult’s account for half per cent of new HIV/AIDS infections.
GIRLS DROP OUT OF SCHOOL DUE TO UNWANTED PREGNANCIES
Unintended pregnancy is one of the most critical factors contributing to schoolgirl drop out in Kenya. According to recent statistics, up to 13,000 Kenyan girls drop out of school every year as a result of unintended pregnancies. In addition, unsafe pregnancy termination contributes immensely to maternal mortality which is currently estimated at 488 deaths per 100 000 live births. Young women aged 15–19 are reported to be significantly more likely than older women to experience unintended pregnancy.
Last year, a parent contacted this Kenya Forum correspondent seeking advice after her 17 year old daughter, who was in form four, got expelled from Buru Buru girls high school just a week before the Kenya Certificate Of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams commenced after the administration discovered that she was pregnant.
The woman was referred to the CRADLE, the children foundation that protects the rights of children through court representation and the student was allowed to do her exams even though as a day scholar.
Around August last year, 10 girls dropped out of a secondary school in Laikipia East District due to early pregnancies and marriage.
In Vihiga County girls as young as 11 years were also reported to be engaging in sex in exchange for cheap gifts like sanitary towels, body lotion, perfumed soap and snacks.
PARENTS SHYING AWAY FROM SEX
Sex has for a long time been taboo in the African tradition and it’s therefore not a subject that most adults would be comfortable discussing outside their bedroom walls let alone with their kids. Society has however changed and with the exposure children are getting all over from TV, radio, internet and peers, its high time parents took the bull by the horns and discussed sex with their children otherwise many kids will keep getting pregnant before their 17th birthday.