There has been a public outrage over a controversial proposed Bill on reproductive health, which seeks to provide girls as young as 10 years with condoms and birth control pills.
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE BILL 2014
The Reproductive Health Care Bill 2104, which is sponsored by nominated Senator Judith Sijeny, proposes for adolescents to be given access to comprehensive sexual education and confidential services. This means parental consent will not be necessary.
Senator Sijeny argues that contrary to public opinion, the Bill does not aim to promote immorality among adolescents but to provide access to qualified healthcare providers based on the knowledge that many children are now exposed to risky sexual behaviours.
The Kenya National Parents and Teachers Association (KNPTA) has strongly criticized the Bill and maintained that there are more pressing issues affecting children in schools that should be discussed and not “immorality”.
Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi was also among the first officials to condemn the Bill terming it as immoral.
“My ministry has an obligation to educate all children and promote good values and we will not be dragged in attempts to propagate bad teachings in schools,” Kaimenyi said, adding that that was outright introduction of immorality.
Omboko Milemba, the chairman of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) has also warned the Senate against passing the Bill on grounds that it would encourage moral decadence.
According to Senator Sijeny, the Bill has been formerly introduced in the senate and a public hearing will be held today. If passed in the Senate the Bill will be sent to the National Assembly for MP’s to debate.
There are over 10 million young people aged 10-24 years in Kenya constituting about 36 percent of the population.
According to the recently published Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) report, half of all new HIV infections occur among young people aged 15-24 years. Worse still, girls are twice as likely to be infected as boys of the same age.
The survey also revealed that by age 19, almost half of adolescents have begun childbearing and among all pregnant women, 23 percent are adolescents.
These are disturbing facts and we can all agree that there is need for effective ‘youth friendly’ reproduction health services but is providing condoms and contraceptives is certainly not the best approach?
Related report and article:
‘Parents say no child should get condoms’ (Sunday Nation, June 22)
‘Spare our students the condoms burden’ (Daily Nation, June 23)